East Tennessee Outdoors: Fact or Fiction – Deer Edition

Published 1:09 am Tuesday, November 19, 2019




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There are many myths that surround hunting, fishing and the outdoors. Some of them are so ingrained in our culture that they have taken a life of their own, and many people swear that they are true.

This week’s column will try to undo some of these lies and maybe dispel some of the myths and legends from the truth surrounding the whitetail deer. Read further and see how many myths you believe!

Fact or fiction? A buck whitetail deer will usually have antlers and a doe (or female) whitetail will never have antlers.

FICTION. There are some whitetail doe that have high testosterone levels who grow antlers. It is estimated that one doe in every 4000 will have these high hormones and will grow a set of antlers.

Not long ago, a buddy of mine took a deer to a checking station where he saw a man checking in a beautiful 6-point deer. The deer was a doe.

Fact or Fiction: A whitetail buck will grow antlers all of his life and they get bigger the older he gets.

FICTION. A whitetail buck will grow antlers usually from the age of two to about five or six. The size of a whitetail’s antlers depends on its genes and the nutrition it is getting from its food.

A large racked whitetail will have good genes from both its father and mother and will grow those antlers until around age five. From that point on, the mass of the antlers will decrease as its body needs the nutrition to survive.

There was a deer in my hunting area that was a perfect example of this. The buck showed itself late one evening the day before the archery season opened and it had eight perfect points on it.

No one killed it. The next year a very large bodied deer with large spiked antlers was killed in the area where the 8-point had been the year before. Its teeth were worn down because it was an older deer. It was my 8-pointer.

Fact of fiction? A whitetail fawn is born without a scent.

FACT. Whitetail fawns are born without a scent. Their only protection against predators is to lay still and hope the predator does not see it.

Once they are a little older, they will have the ability to run from predators but right after birth they do not have a scent and that is their only protection.

Fact or Fiction? Any whitetail deer that is partially white is considered an albino deer, and it is illegal to kill.

FICTION. A true albino deer will be solid white and have pink eyes. Albino deer are very rare and only occur once in every 30,000 births in the wild.

Yes, it is illegal to kill a true albino deer in Tennessee.

Fact or fiction? Whitetail deer kill more people each year in America than bears, snakes and mountain lions combined.

FACT. In America, we have to deal with several species of predators and dangerous creatures including bears, mountain lions, wolves, and snakes. But the most dangerous animal in the forest is the whitetail deer.

Whitetail deer kill around 120 people a year, usually by causing car accidents. Compare this to bear attacks where only around two people on average die each year.

Bears don’t seem so bad when we look at these numbers!

What have we learned today? Don’t take every story as a fact until you research the truth. We live in the Appalachian Mountains where you will find a variety of creatures both small and large.

Respect them, give them their distance, and admire them but remember not everything told about them is true.