Identifying Deer Species | Blog | Stone Creek Ranch
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Identifying Deer Species at Stone Creek Ranch

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, 43 unique species make up the deer family. While the family shares many features, each branch is still unique. When hunting, it is essential to notice these identifying traits. This may mean the difference between harvesting the deer you’re after or drawing down a different animal.

Stone Creek Ranch is home to three species: whitetail, axis and fallow deer. Each species’ unique characteristics make it an attractive trophy to add to any collection. Below, we’ve outlined the features of each species that use can use when looking for identifiable characteristics. They’ll come in handy when you visit us at the ranch.

Whitetail Deer

The whitetail deer is one of the most abundant species in North America. In fact, Texas Parks & Wildlife estimates that there are approximately 5.3 million whitetail deer in the Lone Star State alone.

In case it isn’t obvious, the key identifying feature of a whitetail deer is its white tail. More specifically, the underside of the deer’s tail is covered with white fur, which is easy to notice when the animal lifts its tail. White fur is also often present on the inside of the whitetail’s hindquarters and underbelly. It can also be present around the eyes, ears and throat.

As for the whitetail’s remaining fur, you may see shades ranging from tan to reddish-brown, and some animals even have a blue-gray color. It is important to note that the hue of the whitetail’s fur can change between summer and winter.

And remember the antlers, too. Whitetail bucks are also known for sporting impressive multi-point antlers, and the more points you see, the more impressive a specimen the animal often is.

Fallow Deer

Native to western Eurasia, the fallow deer has many unique characteristics that make it stand out from other species. The most notable feature of bucks is their flattened, palmate antlers, which differ considerably from the branch-like antlers present on whitetail deer, and which can grow up to 39 inches in length. The species is also quite powerful, despite having shorter frames than the average deer.

Another interesting feature of the fallow deer is its spots. Typically, whitetails only have white spots on their fur while they are fawns, which vanish when the animal reaches adulthood. Fallows, however, tend to keep their spots throughout their lives.

An additional feature of note is the fallow’s coloring. The tail, which is usually both white and black, is typically complimented by a white rump patch outlined in black. As for the overall color of the animal, however, variety is the name of the game. While fallows are typically a rich tan, they can come in shades that range from near-yellow to white, black and even chocolate. Whatever the color, however, this species represents a unique trophy that would make an excellent addition to your collection.

Axis Deer

Like fallow deer, axis deer also can sport white spots across their entire bodies into adulthood. They’re also noted (and coveted by hunters) for their rich reddish-brown coats, which can create a striking contrast to their spots.

The build of the axis species is also of particular note. As a medium-sized species, axis bucks can weigh up to 200 pounds, with does clocking in roughly the 130-pound range. However, perhaps the most interesting fact about these deer is that they are often very lean and can carry as little as 1% body fat.

Additionally, and perhaps most notably, Axis deer are known for their antlers, which are both graceful and strikingly symmetrical. The antlers usually have very few tines and are lyre-shaped, making them unique from those of many other species. That’s why you will likely find an axis trophy one of the most easily identifiable in your collection.

Identifying Adult Deer

When hunting, most hunters look for adult deer instead of fawns (immature deer). That’s why it’s essential to know how to identify the adults from the fawns as well as you can identify different species.

On the one hand, harvesting a fawn is generally not illegal. Indeed, in some cases, it is a necessary part of population management. On the other hand, no one really wants to kill a baby deer. To bring up the usual cliche, doing so causes the inevitable reference to Bambi, and most hunters consider it too brutal. So, the question is, how do you pick out mature animals from fawns? It’s often more complex than you may think.

For example, you can’t judge maturity by the presence of spots. While mature whitetail deer frequently shed their white spots, other species, like fallow and axis deer, tend to keep their spots throughout their lives.

And you also need to look for antlers to determine maturity, either. Of course, well-formed antlers are the markings that distinguish mature bucks from fawns. However, the typical doe does not grow antlers, making them easily distinguishable from bucks but not so much from fawns.

The most straightforward way to differentiate between fawns and mature deer is to go by size and shape. Mature deer typically have elongated bodies that appear more rectangular. Fawns tend to have a boxier, squarer shape. Their legs can often appear disproportionately long compared to the rest of their bodies, especially when they are very young. Therefore, if you see a small deer, it may be a safe bet to assume it is a fawn. The good news is that fawns typically do not stray from the rest of the herd, so you may soon have a more mature specimen in your grasp.

How Do I Identify Elk and Antelope?

At Stone Creek Ranch, you’ll find more than just whitetail, fallow and axis deer. We’re home to various elk, as well as numerous species of antelope. While elk are members of the deer family, antelope are entirely different animals altogether. They each have distinctions that can help you identify them on the hunt. You can learn more about identifying antelope by clicking here, and if you want to learn more about identifying elk, click here.

Find the Right Deer at Stone Creek Ranch

Even if you’re not an expert in identifying deer, you don’t have to worry about it if you hunt at Stone Creek Ranch. Throughout your hunt, our trained guides will be on hand to help you track, identify and harvest the deer you’ve been seeking. Plus, we scout our property daily to ensure we know the best places to go to increase your chances of bagging the perfect specimen. It’s all a part of our effort to offer you the best hunting ranch experience in the Lone Star State.

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