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Home / Hunting / Game Guide / Hoofed Mammals / Fallow Deer

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FIELD GUIDE

Hoofed Mammals
Fallow Deer Cervus dama

Description

A small deer. Brown with white spots; on lower sides and haunches, spots may fuse into white line; individuals also may be black, white, pale yellow, cream, silver-gray, or piebald. White below. Black stripe from nape down back onto relatively long tail. Hindlegs slightly longer than forelegs, so that rump is held high. Short neck has prominent larynx. Dewclaws reduced; high on legs. Buck's antlers have flattened terminal tines; antlers measure about 12-300 (30.5-76 cm) from tip to tip. Fawn spotted. Ht about 3'3" (1 m); L 4'7"-5'11" (1.4-1.8 m); T 6 3/8-7 1/2" (16-19 cm); Wt 88-176 lb (40-80 kg). Similar Species Adult Mule Deer and White-tailed Deer lack spotting in summer; antlers lack flattened tines.

Breeding

Breeds October-November; after gestation of 6-7 months, 1 (rarely 2) spotted young born.

Habitat

Brushy hills with grassy fields.

Range

Fallow Deer were originally brought to James Island, British Columbia, and to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in Kentucky. Now they also range in Maryland, on Saint Simon Island and Jekyll Island off the Georgia coast, and in Alabama, California, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Discussion

Native to the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor and introduced in our region, the Fallow Deer runs in a distinctive stiff-legged fashion, bouncing along as if on a pogo stick. It grazes on grasses and herbaceous plants in summer, and browses on the woody parts of deciduous trees and conifers in winter. The Fallow Deer utters a sound similar to a dog's bark when it is nervous, such as when a buck engages in battle or a doe has lost a fawn. Other vocalizations include: bleating by a pregnant female or a female with fawns; mewing, a submissive call; the peeping of a fawn to contact or alert its mother; wailing by a fawn in intense distress; and groaning, a belch-like sound that lasts about one second but that may occur in a series, with four to five seconds between groans. The unusually gregarious Fallow Deer forms herds of up to 150 to 175 members, including young bucks, does, and fawns. The adult male is solitary. The buck is polygamous and fights with other bucks during the rutting season. At Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes, during the November rutting season the male makes scrapes on the ground, clearing patches about 18 to 24 inches by 24 to 36 inches (45-60 cm by 60-90 cm), onto which it urinates. A doe in heat frequents these scrapes, and mating often occurs on a pathway between them. After gestation, the female leaves the herd to give birth. She leaves the fawn alone most of the day, returning only for nursing; a fawn learns to recognize its mother by her bleat. The fawn runs with the mother at about one month, and is weaned at about four months, in October, during the rutting season. Antlers are shed in late winter. The Fallow Deer has an "alerting" behavior during which members of a herd assume a rigid, upright stance and stiff walk with neck extended vertically. The tail elevation indicates the degree of disturbance. If truly wild, the Fallow Deer is wary of humans, but unlike most other deer species, it easily becomes semi-domesticated and has been established as a "park deer" in many parts of the world.

Track

Tracks similar to those of White-tailed Deer but never show prints of dewclaw behind main prints.

Sign

Browse marks, bed, and scat similar to those of White-tailed Deer.

 

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