Whitetail Deer Wintering Habits

Well it’s Mid-November, and the breeding season for the whitetail deer is in full swing in most areas of the Midwest. Within the next few weeks however, this cervid’s behavior will take a dramatic shift. Whitetail bucks and does lose a considerable amount of body weight during the fall rut due to chasing and overall body stress. This extreme stress can even be the cause of fatal heart attacks experienced by these animals.

Once the November rut winds down, the focus shifts back to food sources as it was during the summer and early fall. Body Mass Index is key in sustaining a deer’s overall physical health which aids in mental stability and function. As most of you know Food source substantiality is much slimmer at this point in the game than during the growing season. Climate and location are two of the key factors that control availability of mast throughout the year. Drought is the enemy and in the past few years the Midwest has seen its effects. Hemorrhagic Disease or EHD has stood out the most. EHD is a result of drought. This drought creates stagnant pools of water, making it the perfect breeding ground for a small insect known as the midge fly. The midge fly is a carrier for the disease. After contact with the whitetail’s nasal cavity the disease becomes infectious. It causes a breakdown of the central organs and extreme fever, causing the animal to burn up without being able to cool. This is why rainfall is so key.
In the late season during a year of drought, deer will have to travel much more in order to fid food. This exposes them more to predators and the elements. Often in the latter portion of winter, whitetails will also be seen in large herds. Although most people may just see this as “grouping up” it is more likely just a meeting place due to the substantial food in that location. Most of the deer in the group will likely seek solitude when they are not at the food source.   



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