The History of White-Tailed Deer in KentuckyWhen our ancestors first reached Kentucky they found a great abundanceof game, including deer. Early settlers utilized deer for food and clothing.
Due to all the killing of the white-tail deer, around 1925 they were virtuallyeliminated in Kentucky. A few survived in areas such as, between the Cumberlandand Tennessee rivers in western Kentucky, and a few survived in eastern Kentucky. In most places, though deer simply no longer occurred. When the deer was on the verge of extension in Kentucky, the KentuckyDepartment of Fish and Wildlife Resources stepped in.
They tried to save thedeer in Kentucky and they succeeded. They regulated the hunting seasons and theamount of game allowed to kill. Today we have an abundance of deer in Kentucky,we have about 450,000 deer. The white-tailed deer breeding season in Kentucky runs from Octoberthrough mid January, reaching its peak in November. Most fawns are born in June,following a seven month gestation period.Order now
Newborn fawns will weigh about fourpounds at birth. Deer offspring are cared for and may remain with the mother until thenext spring. Fawns retain their spots until mid September and nurse until midOctober. About 40 percent of female fawns breed during their first autumn, butusually bear only one fawn. Does breeding at age 1 1/2 or older generally havetwins, and sometimes triplets.
By November, Kentucky’s deer population typicalincreases slightly more than one fawn per doe. Although many more fawns areborn than one per doe, some will die before the hunting season arrives. A deer’s home range averages about 500 acres. In mountains, the homerange may exceed 1,000 acres. Even though this size area can support about 40deer, these animals will not always stay just within their home range. Manywill travel on and off that amount of land different times of the year lookingfor the best food and cover available.
One important key in improving deer numbers is helping provide ampleamounts of the right foods. Healthier deer produce more offspring. White-tailseat a variety of vegetation, depending on what is available during differentseasons. In late winter, deer live mainly on woody twig ends and buds calledbrowse. They will also eat acorns, corn and winter wheat if available. Springfoods include tender grasses, clovers and leaves of woody plants such as ragweed,native and cultivated grasses and clovers.
During the fall, deer will usefruits and nuts such as acorns, persimmons, dogwood berries, corn and browse fora food supply. Protection from severe weather, predators and illegal hunting isessential for deer. For this, white-tails must have stands of forests, thickbrushy areas and over grown fields in which to hide and bed. Deer will not stayin areas that are too open or that offer them no shelter and refuge.
Age is one of the most critical factors in managing for trophy deer. White-tailed deer must be at least three and one half years old before theirantlers approach trophy size. Peak antler development usually occurs betweenage six and one half and seven and one half. In Kentucky, however, only 30percent of bucks reach two and one half years old, and only nine percent liveand additional year or longer.
Harvest practices that allow bucks to reach older ages can easily bedesigned to maximize the potential for trophy size antlers. The best ways arethrough taking fewer bucks and regulating harvest selection. If trophy deer aredesired, hunters must be willing to take antlerless deer. They must also learnto recognize trophy potential in young bucks and not harvest these animalsbefore that potential is reached. Social Issues