Here are some photos of an albino white-tailed deer that I came across recently. The really odd thing is not only is being an albino mammal rare, but the fact that this is actually a mature buck is a miracle! Natural predators and hunters alike will hone in on oddly colored deer, even in areas where deer management and controlled harvests take place. This whitetail buck can be identified as an albino deer — and not a piebald deer — by examining both his eyes and nose. Take a good look and you can see exactly what I am talking about.
The pink eye and the pink nose are textbook signs that this deer is an albino. At first glance, I noticed the brown on his head and near the base of the antlers and thought that maybe this buck was not an albino, but then I realized that the brown color comes from the buck rubbing his antlers (on trees). Bucks will commonly rub their antlers once annual antler growth stops to rid themselves of decaying velvet. In addition, this activity helps strengthen their neck and shoulders prior to the breeding season. Continue reading “Photos of a Mature Albino Buck”
Have you ever noticed that the first plants to return in a plowed, scraped, or otherwise disturbed area are weeds? Although this may not seem like much, these natural food plots could be of big benefit to your deer management program. When exposed to air, light, and water, seeds that were lying dormant in the soil begin to germinate following soil disturbance. These young, succulent plants are high in nutrient value and attract a variety of wildlife species looking for valuable forage, particularly white-tailed deer.
Disturbed sites can also serve as excellent food plot locations to supplement white-tailed deer diets during the stressful late winter or late summer periods. Areas can be lightly disked during late winter for the production of spring annuals, and then be heavily disked in early fall for winter food plots. This process can be repeated over and over and you can even sprinkle in some seeds during the spring disking to enhance the plot. Remember, you are trying to create supplemental food for deer. You are not trying to grow a lawn. It does not have to look like a perfect stand of manicured plants. Continue reading “Whitetail Deer Food Plots Without Planting”
Albino white-tailed deer may be neat to see, but did you know that a true albino occurs in only one of out of 100,000 births and very few fawns survive beyond the first year of life? It’s true. For an albino deer to live over seven years is extremely unusual — almost unheard of. And if you think about it, this makes sense for a lot of reasons. First, most of the whitetail’s range consist of habitat that is dominated by the colors green and brown–not white.
Within various wildlife species, animal coloration is based on the process of natural selection. In short, color mutations occur infrequently overall, but if the color variations were well-suited for the environment where they are found, then those “oddly” colored animals would survive to breed and pass on their genes. If the genes cause an animal to stick out, such as a white deer in a primarily green or brown environment, then the animal will be more noticable to predators, including humans. This results in the animal being depredated or harvested. In either case, the color abnormality does not benefit the white animal. Continue reading “The Odds of Seeing an Albino Deer”
Food plots have become widely used deer management practices, but not all plots are created equal. Cool-season (fall and winter) food plots for white-tailed deer are not as susceptible to drought or weed competition when compared to warm-season (spring) food plots. This fact holds true for cool season food plots found throughout the whitetail’s range in most cases. One exception may be legumes, which may require delayed planting if rainfall is deficient in the early fall months of September and October. Cool-season plant species can be planted on either upland or bottomland sites because of cooler temperatures and increased water availability during fall and winter periods.
Cool season forages commonly consist of oats, rye, ryegrass, wheat, arrowleaf clover, sweetclover, subterranean clover, Austrian winter peas, and brassicas. Various seed companies provide a plethera of cool-season seed mixes that incorporate a number of plants into a single food plot mix. And speaking of food plot mixes, I recommend that landowners never plant food plots with a single plant species, especially in new food plots or where low input from the landowner is expected. Although at least 2 plant species are suggested in fall and winter food plots, I recommend that spring plots contain a minimum of 3 plant species. Continue reading “Cool Season Deer Food Plots Considerations”
Warm-season (Spring-Summer) plant species are more reliable when used in food plots for white-tailed deer, especially when plots are located in bottomlands. This fact occurs because low-lying sites are where the highest amount of moisture is retained during the drier summer months. This is important information to remember for the success of your food plot, as well as your overall deer management program. However, care should be taken to select a site that is not prone to flooding from nearby streams, rivers, or other waterways.
Droughty upland sites are not good as good of sites for warm-season deer plots, so try avoid such areas and concentrate on your better soils to increase your odds of a successful food plot. Of course, not every property has moisture-rich bottomland soil. In this case, position plots at least 50 yards from woodlands, since nearby trees will wick water from upland soils. But if you have the option, go low.
This seems simple, but it can make a big difference between success and failure. Warm-season plant species should be selected for their ability to grow quickly and compete with native weeds. Remember, with either warm or cool-season supplemental forages, soil samples should be taken to determine lime and fertilizer requirements. Failure to properly prepare the soil may result in drastically reduced yield or excessive weed competition. A good source for local information will be your county extension agent and they can usually help with soil testing for your food plots. Continue reading “Warm Season Whitetail Food Plots Considerations”