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White-tailed Deer

Painting of a White-tailed Deer by Jean Gawalt
Art by Jean Gawalt

Located throughout the state, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is New York's most popular game animal. Residents and visitors to the state derive countless hours of enjoyment from the white-tailed deer resource. Each year, more than 500,000 deer hunters contribute nearly $1.5 billion to New York State's economy through hunting-related expenses. Through license purchases and federal excise taxes, hunters generate over $35 million to support management activities of NYSDEC. Hunters take some 220,000 deer annually, filling freezers with roughly 10.8 million pounds of high quality local venison. Largely due to efforts of more than 3,000 volunteer Hunter Education instructors, hunters continue to demonstrate exceptional safety records.

As a large herbivore, deer also play a role in shaping the landscape. Oftentimes, this can compete with human interests. Abundant deer populations can negatively affect plant communities and the other wildlife dependent on those communities. Deer can also cause problems for farmers, tree growers and homeowners. Additionally, they are a frequent hazard to motorists. Deer management seeks to maximize the benefits of this resource while being mindful of the human and ecological concerns associated with abundant deer populations.

Big Game Email List

Join New York Big Game to periodically receive information about bear and deer biology, management, research, regulations and hunting in New York State. To subscribe, first subscribe to GovDelivery and enter your email. Submit the requested information on the "New Subscriber" page.

On the "Quick Subscription" page you will see all the topics that you can subscribe to email updates on. Check the box next to "Hunting and Trapping" under the first category "Outdoor Recreational and Commercial Activities." You will receive a welcome email confirming your subscription(s).

Watchable Wildlife

watchable wildlife icon

When looking for wildlife in New York, visit the Watchable Wildlife webpage for the best locations for finding your favorite mammal, bird, reptile, or insect. New York State has millions of acres of State Parks, forests and wildlife management areas that are home to hundreds of wildlife species, and all are open to the public. Choose from hundreds of trails and miles of rivers as well as marshes and wetlands.   

Remember when viewing wildlife:  

  • Don't feed wildlife and leave wild baby animals where you find them.  
  • Keep quiet, move slowly and be patient. Allow time for animals to enter the area.  

Quick Facts About White-Tailed Deer

  • Only male deer have antlers, which fall off every winter and regrow every summer. Developing antlers are covered with a soft skin called velvet, which is full of blood vessels.
  • Deer can swim, run up to 35-40 miles per hour, and jump over an 8-foot high fence!
  • Deer communicate with scent and body language, in addition to vocalizations.

What to Watch for

  • Size: 3 to 3.5 feet tall at the shoulder. 125-200 pounds, although males can weigh up to 300 pounds.
  • Appearance
    • Adults: have reddish-brown coats in summer; grayish-brown in winter.
    • Fawns: are reddish-brown with white spots.

Where to Watch

Deer are often found on the edges of forests and in open areas by roadways, farm fields, or waterways.

What to Listen for

These wary animals are often quiet, but they make more sounds than most people realize. Fawns may bleat to get the attention of other deer. Adult deer may snort or stomp a front foot when they are disturbed or frightened. During mating season, bucks sometimes make a grunting noise.

When to Watch

Early morning or early evening year-round are good times to watch for deer.

The Best Places to See White-tailed Deer

More about White-tailed Deer:

  • New York's Deer Management Program - Overview of how and why white-tailed deer populations are managed in New York.
  • Deer Overabundance - The abundance of deer in many parts of New York is causing increasing problems, particularly in suburban and urban areas. This page and its sub-pages provide information on the origins and implications of this situation and various avenues for addressing these problems.
  • Deer and Moose Feeding Prohibited - Provides information about the specific regulations and also answers some questions regarding the feeding of deer and moose in New York.
  • Winter Deer Foods - A partial listing of tree and shrub species that are eaten by deer in the winter, arranged in order of quality and preference
  • Important Links
  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8883.
  • Contact for this Page
    Bureau of Wildlife
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-4754
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  • Page applies to all NYS regions