November 5, 2008
- White-Tailed Deer
- More Deer Photos
- Family Fun
- Upcoming DEC Events
Despite its shy, elusive nature, the white-tailed deer is a common sight throughout much of New York State. Large animals, adult white-tails measure about 3 ½ feet tall at the shoulder and average about 150 pounds, but some can weigh up to 300 pounds. They tend to be most active in the early morning and evening. White-tails are able to run 40 miles per hour, jump nine foot fences and swim 13 miles per hour.
Male white-tails, called bucks, grow and shed their antlers each year. Antler size generally increases with age, although genetics, food quality and health play important roles. A buck with a number of points or tines on its antlers is generally healthy and lives in a good habitat. The female deer is called a doe, and gives birth to one or two fawns in the spring.
Adult white-tails are usually reddish-brown in color during the summer and grayish-brown in winter. They prefer open agricultural areas and dense brushy habitat, eating a wide variety of vegetation including grasses, trees, shrubs and crops. Deer seem to have the ability to choose the more nutritious food source available. They eat more in autumn to build up their fat reserves for winter. White-tails have four-part stomachs which allow them to eat large amounts of food at one time, and then move to a safe place to rest. During severe winters, deer will only move far enough to locate food and shelter.
Hunting is among the most popular forms of wildlife recreation in New York State. Nearly 700,000 New Yorkers and over 50,000 nonresidents hunt in the Empire State. New York offers many exciting opportunities to hunt a large variety of wildlife, including big game like white-tailed deer and bear, small game, game birds and furbearers. In New York State, 14- and 15-year-olds can now hunt deer and bear with a firearm through DEC's Junior Hunter Mentoring Program.
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Making a Lasting Impression
When you are hiking through the woods this autumn, plan to bring back some evidence of the animals that call the area home. Cut a 2" x 8" strip out of a cardboard milk carton and form it into a circle, using a paperclip to secure the ends together. Pack the cardboard, some water, a plastic container and some plaster of paris in a backpack and head outside. Look for a clear animal track in the soil or mud. Make sure that the track is both deep and clear so that you get a good impression.
Place the cardboard circle around the track and gently push it into the soil. If the area is dry, carefully moisten it without destroying the track. Pour the water into the plastic container and add the plaster of paris according to the instructions on the package. Stir with a stick until it is smooth and able to pour easily (but not too runny). Pour the plaster into the mold and let it set for several hours or more. Pick up the mold and remove the cast. You can leave your impression white or paint it another color. Make sure to mark the bottom with the type of animal the track came from and where you found it.
Just because you don't see animals in your neighborhood doesn't mean that they aren't there. Become an animal detective and look for the clues that animals leave behind. Take a hike in the woods (kids should be with an adult) and see how many different animal signs you can identify:
Deer: Deer tracks are heart-shaped. The pointed end of the track points to where the deer was going. Deer trails are narrow paths which usually connect to where a deer eats and sleeps. Deer beds are flattened areas in meadows or woodland clearings. Another common spot is under an apple tree. You can find buck rubs on areas of a tree about one-to-two feet off the ground where a buck has rubbed the bark off with its antlers.
Raccoons: Look for overturned garbage and paw prints that look like tiny human hands to determine if a raccoon has been stealing a meal. (And then raccoon-proof your garbage can with a strong bungee cord stretched over the top and attached to the handles on each side.)
Skunk: While your nose will be able to tell if a skunk is nearby, so can your yard. Skunks dig holes in the lawn with their sharp claws in search of grubs and insects.
Squirrels: A pile of pine cones that have been stripped clean is a sure sign that a squirrel has been dining in your yard. Squirrels, mice and chipmunks love to hide in log piles.
Check out Conservationist for Kids for more information and activities!
Upcoming DEC Events
Saturday, November 8 at 2:00 PM
Get acquainted with our native nut-bearing trees - oaks and hickories, beech, and walnut. Learn how to identify them and how these hardwoods are used by people and by wildlife.
Come Celebrate "New York Recycles Day"
Saturday, November 15 at 2:00 PM
What does and doesn't go into your blue bin recycling container? What should you do with those old cell phones and other used electronic equipment? Join Terry Laibach, DEC Regional Recycling Coordinator, to unravel the mysteries of recycling and composting. Come view different composting techniques and get your recycling and composting questions answered.
Nuts About Wildlife
Saturday, November 8 at 2:00 PM
Nut trees are important food sources both for wildlife and people. Since most nut trees are wind-pollinated, the "mast" crop can vary widely from year to year. Join us on this outdoor foray to monitor the mast crop and investigate the many creatures who are nuts about nuts.
An Ice Age in the Hudson Valley
Thursday, November 6 from 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM
Robert Titus, professor of geology at Hartwick College, will offer a slide show on the Ice Age of our region, especially the Albany Pine Bush and Albany area. Please call 518-456-0655 to register. Cost: $2.00/person, $5.00/family, children under 5 free.
Saturday, November 8 at 11:00 AM
Time to hit the trail! We will be searching for animal signs and keeping a careful eye out for other interesting sightings along the way.
Gourd Art Creations (Ages 7 and up)
Saturday, November 15 at 10:00 AM
Local gourd cultivator and artist, Jane Hough, will relate her techniques for making bird feeders and bird houses out of gourds. Gourds and supplies will be provided. Please call to register: 607-674-4017. Cost: $8 for each gourd used.
Advance registration is required for the following programs. Call 716-683-5959.
Saturday, November 15 at 10:30 AM
Fallen leaves are a form of art. We'll search for leaves, learn how to press them and use them to make simple crafts.
Full Beaver Moon Walk
Thursday, November 13 at 6:00 PM
Beavers are now active in their preparation for winter. Join us as we try to spot our resident "busy" beavers.
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