Now that the majority of the farm fields have been harvested, we are seeing more white-tailed deer out searching for food. The problem with the deer searching for food is that they occasionally run into the path of a car causing a collision. If the deer are able to avoid the car, they are actually an interesting wildlife species to learn about.
At one point, white-tailed deer were nearing extinction in Indiana. To help combat this, in 1934, the Division of Fish and Game began to restock the population. The initial way they did this was by trapping 400 deer in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina. Once trapped, these deer were transported to state and federal properties in the southern hills of Indiana and released. Overtime, these deer have spread throughout the state along with others that have crossed into the state from Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky.
White-tailed deer are a member of the Cervidae family. Animals in the Cervidae family all share the characteristic that males bare antlers. Antlers are not permanent structures, which is why deer loose them every year around January and February. The antlers are often fully grown by early September. The antler tissue is one of the fastest growing tissues known to man with some antlers growing as much as a half an inch per day. As the antler grows, it will be covered with a hairy skin called velvet. The velvet will dry up and begin to slough off as the antler hardens.
You cannot tell the age of the deer by its antlers. Instead through special training and knowledge of when a deer’s milk teeth are replaced by permanent teeth, you can learn to tell the age of a deer. Each year, during opening weekend of firearms season, biologist with the DNR visit check stations throughout the state to collect data on the age of deer checked in that weekend. Through this process, they have determined the prime age of deer is three to six with wild white-tailed deer being considered old at age 10. In captivity, deer can live up to 20 years of age.
White-tailed deer are known to carry diseases like most animals. Two of the main ones of concern are: Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Bovine Tuberculosis (TB). In 2002, Indiana created a monitoring program to detect the presence of CWD in deer. CWD has not been detected in deer since testing started. Bovine Tuberculosis has not been found in Indiana since 2008. However it is still important that you wear gloves when field dressing your deer and if you encounter any that show symptoms of TB (white or red- blister-like sores on internal organs) you should contact your local wildlife biologist or animal health center.
As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. or reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Purdue University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:
November 18 – Food Mixes in a Jar, 6:00 pm, Clay Co. Extension Office
November 18 – Clay Co. Jr. Leader Meeting
November 19—Clay Co. Extension Homemakers Pre-Council Meeting, 9:30 am., Extension Office
November 20 – Owen Co. Extension Board Meeting, 6:30 pm, Owen Co. Extension Office
November 28 & 29 – Extension Office Closed, Holiday