By Tim Newark & Angus McBride

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The rut occurs in mid-November. BOREAL (NORTHERN WOODLAND) WHITETAIL To the east of the Dakota whitetail lives yet another beautiful subspecies, the Boreal Whitetail (O. v. borealis). Boreal means “of the north,” referring to the climatic zone south of the Arctic. Yet another large subspecies, with a record reported weight of 354 pounds, their distribution is restricted to states and provinces around the Great Lakes and of the north Atlantic Ocean. The southern limit occurs at the banks of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers, although I don’t understand how rivers can be limiting.

THE WHITETAIL SLAM Since whitetails are the number one big-game animal hunted in the world, it’s no wonder that there should be a whitetail slam. Yet, other than SCI’s “Grand Slam of Whitetails” award, no other organization has stepped up to honor hunters who travel North America to hunt its extremely diverse whitetail population. Biologists have haggled for years over whitetail subspecies — some expanding the list to nearly 40 while others are content with less than 20. The proliferation of white-tailed deer has included much restocking, which has watered down the gene pool of true subspecies in most areas of North America.

I personally feel the black-tailed deer (Odocoileus hemionus columbianus) either is the oldest species in the genus or the actual ancestor to whitetails. DNA studies at Purdue University indicate blacktails and mule deer became separated by glaciers, leading to these two separate species. It probably occurred also with whitetails and the blacktail/mule deer group. 2 million years old. By the way, it was aged at over 61⁄2 years of age — which makes you wonder just what kind of predators that deer had to avoid throughout its life… By the time Lewis and Clark began their epic journey across North America, the Virginia deer (as they called them) had spread throughout the continent, into Mexico and Central America, and even reached Argentina as the South American Whitetail (Odocoileus virginianus cariacou).

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