Animal: White-tailed deer
Research Location:

Why this animal?

Why did I choose the white-tailed deer? I chose the white-tailed deer because I find them very interesting. I find them interesting because, for their size, they are very agile. They can also jump really far and high, and I wonder how they can do it. They also run very fast and I want to know how they can with the size of their bodies. Their senses are all super strong and I wonder how they compare to a humans. These are the reasons I want to learn more about white-tailed deer.

As I stepped off the plane I could hear the birds singing. Bluebirds, cardinals, doves, and of course the state bird, the goldfinch. Yes, that’s right I’m in the great state of Iowa. This state is home to beautiful vegetation and animals. From large oaks and sycamores, to the white-tailed deer and raccoons. Multi-flora roses, cat tails, poison ivy, hickory, walnuts, and acorn trees are just a few of these plants. Animals range from the coyote to field mice, the wild turkey to pheasants, and raccoons and opossum. These animals and plants all survive through the four distinct seasons of Iowa.

Spring, summer, autumn, and winter. These are the four seasons you will encounter if you stay in Iowa. Throughout these for seasons you can expect an average of 75 to 150 centimeters of precipitation. This causes the weather to get rather humid at times, especially during the summer. The average temperature is around 75° from spring to autumn, but once it hits winter, you can expect that to change. It could drop to well below zero degrees and with the wind the state receives it makes it even colder.


I arrived in Iowa in early November on my expedition for the white-tailed deer. It was late one evening and I was sitting on the edge of a willow patch and a field of soybeans. I had sat there all day and was wondering if I would see a deer or not. In the last few minutes of sunlight a doe walked out. She was almost a copper color while her stomach was a snow white. She had long, slender legs allowing her to run fast to get away from predators. She was very hesitant to enter the field and kept looking over her shoulder. Then I saw why. Out of the timber stepped a large buck. He was a more grayish color and had a larger build with broad shoulders, a drooping back, and a large jowl. His antlers were swords protruding out of his skull. They were a cream color at the tips and chocolate at the base. As they feasted on the beans I tried to move closer. As soon as I stood they spotted me. There tails raised like flags, they turned and ran.

Day 4:

It had been 3 days since I had seen anymore deer. I was sitting in the timber this time when I saw two bucks. During the fall deer go into the rut. This is the time when deer breed. The two bucks both tried to intimidate the other by their size but neither would give in. the bucks began to walk towards each other. Crack! They smacked heads together with all of their might, competing for territory and all does in the territory. Back and forth they went, each giving and taking a little. Finally the larger buck had one and the other ran off in fear and defeat.

Day 5:

Today I sat in the timber again. It was raining, so the deer were mostly staying bedded down. As the day went on the rain seemed to lighten up. I didn’t see any deer while sitting there, but on my way out of the timber I walked up on a doe and scared her off before I could get a real good look at her.

Day 9:

It rained three more days after that day. On my ninth day it finally quit so I went to look for the deer. It was very muddy. There are advantages and disadvantages to the mud. On the good side it was much easier for me to find tracks of the deer, but it was so hard to walk through the mud to get anywhere to watch for them. The rut is over and it’s starting to get even colder now. In a few months the bucks will begin shedding their antlers. Hopefully I am still here by then so I can go looking for them and bring them back for samples and for my fellow scientists to see.

Day 10:

The temperature dropped below freezing last night; winter is coming. The deer are starting to become more active during day now. They are beginning to feed more and for longer periods. They are building up their body fat for the winter. Once winter sets in, it will be harder for the deer to find good food sources. Their coats also start getting a grey tint to them to help camouflage them from predators.

Fellow Researcher

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has also studied the white tailed deer. We have a lot of research in common. For example we have stated the deer raise their tails when they sense danger. They too found that a deer's coat will change colors from grey to a redish brown depending on the time of year. Also we both have found that deer have good eyesight and a great sense of smell.

Research Monitoring Technique

For my monitoring technique I have chosen radio telemetry. Radio telemetry involves antennas and a collar or tag that sends out radio signals. The antennas are placed in two different locations, and using the intersection of the radio frequencies of the collars, they can determine where an animal was. The tag or collar is placed on an animal. As the animal moves and even sleeps this collar or tag sends out signals. They send out different rates of beats depending on whether the animal is sleeping, moving, or dead. As the animal goes through its daily behaviors and activates the collar is sending signals.

We had collared a mature buck and doe. The map below shows where each animal was at certain times of the day.
As you can see the animals are mostly nocturnal animals, doing a lot of their activity from around twilight to dawn. The animals do not bed together but will eat in the same area and around the same time as each other.
map.JPG deer.1.JPGdeer.2.JPG

Food Web:





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Blobaum, Cindy. "Plants and Animals of Iowa « Iowa Pathways." Iowa Public Television. Web. 1 Feb. 2012.

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"DNR - White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus)." SOM. 2001. Web. 23 Feb. 2012.,1607,7-153-10370_12145_12205-56904--,00.html.

"White-Tailed Deer." National Geographic. Web. 9 Feb. 2012.