The white underside of a whitetail deer's tail or "flag" that is flashed when disturbed is by far its most characteristic feature. These beautiful deer are sleek, graceful, and have incredibly long legs which makes them look much taller than their actual height of 35 to 38 inches. The whitetail deer grow a reddish-brown, lightweight coat in summer compared to a heavy grayish-brown coat in winter.
Fawns, though, have a reddish-brown coat with white spots. This coat helps to camouflage them from their enemies. The fawns lose their spots at approximately three to four months of age. At this time, they are quite mobile and do not need no to rely on the protection that camouflage offers. At birth, fawns weigh from four to seven pounds and gain approximately 80 to 100 pounds during their first six months of life. In contrast, the weight of adult male whitetail averages 240 to 265 pounds by the time they are four years old.
Adult females, on the other hand, average 140 to 160 pounds. Interestingly, the largest deer in Iowa (reported) was a 440-pound buck! This "monster buck" was taken in the 1962 hunting season in Monona County. Iowa. Males grow antlers, shed them, and a new set is grown each year. This new growth happens in March/April and continues until August/September when the soft dark brown covering of skin that's called "velvet" dries up and is rubbed off on small trees and shrubs by the deer. Antlers serve one purpose: they are weapons in sparring matches in the fall with other bucks to establish dominance for breeding. Bucks typically shed their antlers in following the breeding season in January/February. Rodents consume the fallen antlers, which provides rich minerals in their diet.
The whitetail's genetic background, quality and quantity of food and age determine the size of the antlers which are typically symmetrical. Males have small-unbranched antlers called "buttons" at about 6 months of age. These buttons are barely visible above the skin. It takes one and a half years before a buck has branched antlers with anywhere from two to five points on each side. The size of the antler rack increases as the deer grows older. Peak growth is reached between the age of 5-7 years. After 7 years, the antlers actually become smaller. Therefore, it is most difficult to determine the age of a buck just by counting the variable number of points on their rack. However, the overall mass of the rack does give an indication of age.
Abnormal points (non-typical) can occur when an injury to the rack during growing season happens. Additionally, heredity and improper hormone balances play a part. Measuring the length of the main beams and the spread between them is how a trophy buck is determined in Iowa. According to Iowa records, the largest typical rack measured scored 200 5/8 Boone and Crockett Club points! The largest non-typical rack on record scored at 307 5/8 points, which was first in the world at the time.