Black Tailed Deer

The black tailed deer is a species of deer found in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. They get their name from the black color of the bottom two-thirds of their tails. They are considered to be a subspecies of the mule deer and in fact interbreed with both the Rocky Mountain mule deer and California mule deer. The black-tailed deer is the smallest breed of deer as well as the darkest. Though they are the smallest of the deer species, a large buck can still be well over 140 pounds. The black-tailed deer that you will see in California is the Columbian black tailed deer. Another black tailed deer species is the Sitka, and it is found in British Columbia and northward.

Black-tailed deer are sociable within their sex, with the male deer called bucks, hanging out in bachelor groups and the females, or does, spending their lives in a family group made up of an older doe and her relatives. The bucks grow new antlers each Spring, spar for the attention of the does and mate during the breeding season, called the rut. Newborn black-tails called fawns are born each spring where they will spend the first year of their lives learning from their mothers. Once young bucks have reached maturity at about 16-18 months, they will split from the family group to seek out a group of other bucks, while a young doe will most likely stay in the familiar territory where she was born, living among her other female relatives all of her life.

The Black-Tailed deer has always been a popular game animal and is even referenced in biographies and books reaching back to the mid-19th century. Black-tailed bucks are widely hunted for sport, and many a rack of antlers adorns hunters’ mantles around the world.

Winter starvation is the main cause of death among black-tails, further lending value to the argument that black-tail deer hunting is an important part of conservation. Hunters help keep deer populations at a level that allows all surviving deer a higher quality of life, complete with food and resources they need to survive the elements.