Whitetails in Winter, 2021-2022

Late fall and winter are really good times to observe and photograph whitetails. During the autumn rut, deer are active throughout the day, often preoccupied and reckless. In winter, the availability of food declines sharply, forcing deer to throw caution to the wind and feed whenever and wherever they can. They’re apt to forage in broad daylight and in close proximity to humans.

A young buck searching for does (and persistent wild apples) in early December
A mature doe and one of her fawns foraging during a mid winter snow storm
A fawn browsing Northern White-cedar, critical habitat for deer, grouse and other wildlife in the snow belt. At the time of this post, these cedar trees were bare below 5-6 feet – the browse height of deer
Unharvested corn is a wildlife magnet in winter; over 50 deer visited this site daily
A fawn in early February that appears to be in excellent condition, with a heavy coat and good body weight. In severe winters with persistent, deep snow, fawns account for the highest deer mortality.
Backyard wildlife in winter!
A mature, “trophy” buck, looking rather pedestrian after shedding his antlers on/about January 1, 2022.
A clear view of the pedicles where antlers were shed – and new ones will soon develop

“If we allow ourselves to be enchanted by the beauty of the ordinary, we begin to see that all things are extraordinary” – Dean Koontz

Photos by NB Hunter (December, 2021 – February, 2022). © All Rights Reserved.

11 thoughts on “Whitetails in Winter, 2021-2022

  1. Great  as always Nick!  Last year we had a very hungry young deer that stayed near the house for a couple of months..Sometimes  she slept outside John’s mancave and she ate at the birdfeeder all the time. She stared eating the lilacs – even trying to climb the trunks to get food she needed. Several times she was right outside the kitchen window looking in at me as though asking to come in for a tasty morsel or two. The winter was very hard though and at one point she looked sickly and then never came back. Obviously a fatality of the season. We certainly missed seeing her!                   Thanks for sharing your shots!! Hugs, Anita

    • Really appreciate hearing from you, Anita, and thanks for the nice feedback! About 10 years ago (?) we had several deer coming to the feeders, struggling to survive a harsh winter that would not quit. One was a button buck that became unsteady on his feet and was unable to leave the spruce tree shelter at the edge of the yard. I sort of adopted him and he survived. I saw him a couple of times a week over the next 8 months, feeding in daylight on the property. He became a 4 point and would tolerate me taking pictures at short distances, especially when I walked parallel to him. Sadly, my last image was him eating apples on my trail in November. Take care and stay warm!

    • Two of my favorites as well. The buck is an interesting story. He is well known on the fringe of a nearby village and showed up on the rural property of a friend this winter. We call him “Gimpy” because he has what appears to be an old foot or hip injury and rarely puts his full weight on a hind leg. Otherwise, he appears to be healthy and has obviously figured out how to avoid the many threats to survival. Thanks!

  2. You have shown us a wonderful variety of poses – each one special to my eyes as I am not familiar with these animals. It amazes me that they are able to live through such cold. In South Africa the wild animals somehow make it through droughts. These bring to mind the resilience of nature.

    • The droughts that I read about are frightening, a type of limiting factor that I can’t imagine. Here, winter and, specifically, food availability, are most limiting. For the most part, animals are well adapted to the cold and do well in quality habitat. These whitetails have thick winter coats of hollow, insulating hair. Their metabolism drops dramatically to conserve energy and they can subsist on a diet of woody browse (assuming it is palatable and nutritious). Thanks for the feedback!

  3. As usual, you have captured some great images! You know whitetail are my passion! Soon you’ll be seeing them as redcoats sporting spring and summer hair. I do love those winter coats and enjoy seeing them all fluffed out. Our little herd of five has been keeping close to our home, and not venturing too far off. We’ve had more of a wild hog problem this winter, down towards the river so that could be the reason.

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