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How BIG is that deer?

IllustrationBy Russell Thornberry

"Wow! You won't believe the size of the buck I saw today! I thought I was looking at an elk."

If that sounds familiar, you've been listening to someone with an over-active imagination.

White-tailed deer, no matter how big they get, are not nearly as large as an elk,  not even a cow elk. But hunters tend to see things larger than life. So do fishermen, for that matter.

The truth about the size of a whitetail buck is often quite surprising. Let's see how big you think a whitetail deer is.

Take the following test and see how much you know about the actual size of whitetails.

1) The average weight for a mature whitetail from the Florida Keys is

A.    over 100 pounds
B.    slightly under 100 pounds
C.    under 50 pounds

2) In extreme northern latitudes of the United States and southern latitudes of Canada, mature whitetail bucks may reach weights of

A.    150 pounds
B.    200 pounds
C.    over 300 pounds

3) The body weight of mature Kansas whitetail bucks averages

A.    183 pounds
B.    265 pounds
C.    207 pounds

4) The body weight of mature Louisiana whitetail bucks averages

A.     210 pounds
B.    166 pounds
C.    130 pounds

5) In the state of Texas, mature whitetail bucks vary in size, depending on locale, ranging from

A.    200 to 250 pounds
B.    150 to 200 pounds
C.    80 to 200 pounds

6) A mature northern whitetail buck will stand_______ inches tall at the shoulder.

A.    48 inches
B.    45 inches
C.    40 inches

7)  A Texas Hill Country whitetail buck will stand _______  inches tall at the shoulder.

A.    44 inches
B.    40 inches
C.    36 inches

8) The total length from nose to tail of a mature northern whitetail buck is _____ inches.

A.    140
B.    120
C.    95

9) The total length from nose to tail of a large mature Texas whitetail buck is _____ inches.

A.    100
B.    85
C.    72

10)    The total length from nose to tail of a mature Coues whitetail buck from the mountains of the southwestern United States is ________ inches.

A.    75
B.    65
C.    55

How many of the 10 questions did you answer correctly? Are deer larger or smaller than you thought?

You may be surprised to know that whitetails are actually smaller animals than you thought, especially if you saw a buck the size of an elk!

A mature Rocky Mountain bull elk's average weight will be between seven and eight hundred pounds˜over twice the weight of the largest northern whitetail buck. Such an elk will stand about 59 to 60 inches tall at the shoulder, a full 20 inches taller than the largest whitetail buck.

To put it in another perspective, even the largest of whitetail bucks coming from the northern U.S. or Canada, standing 40 inches tall at the shoulder, only stand waist high beside a six-foot man.

We are often so impressed by the magnificent sight of whitetails in the wild that they appear to us as larger than life. Obviously whitetails range dramatically in size from the 300pound giants of the northern U.S. and Canada to the dainty 45-pound deer of the Florida Keys, and all sizes in between.

Knowing the true size and proportions of whitetails in your hunting area will be very helpful in estimating distance for better shooting accuracy.

Back ToYBO Home PageJust remember, the next time you see a whitetail buck that appears "as big as an elk," your imagination is playing games with you. The largest whitetail buck you'll ever see will only stand three feet, four inches tall at the shoulder.

Very large mature whitetail bucks stand 40 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 300 pounds or slightly more. A mature bull elk will stand 59 to 60 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh as much as 700 pounds or more.

The largest whitetail bucks only stand waist high to a 6-foot man. You were about as tall as the largest whitetail buck when you were three years old.

ANSWERS? The correct answers are all C.

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