Fallow Deer – What are They?

The Fallow deer is a Eurasian deer that is native to western Eurasia, but in the past century the deer has been introduced into other parts of the world, including the United States. In some portions of the U.S., free-ranging fallow deer populations have increased to the point that they cause serious browsing damage to young trees and compete with native white-tailed deer. Fallow deer have also been introduced in Texas along with many other exotic deer species, where they are often hunted on large game ranches.

Fallow deer have a lot of variations in the color of their coats, with four main types: common, menil, melanistic (black) and white. The white-colored fallow is actually white, and not an albino of any sort. In addition, white fallow deer are often mis-identified as albino white-tailed deer. Melanistic fallow deer are often mis-identified as Sika deer or even melanistic whitetail deer. The common coat variation has a brown coat with white mottles that are most pronounced in summer with a much darker coat in the winter. The white is the lightest colored, almost white. The common and menil colored deer are darker.

Most herds consist of the common coat variation, yet it is not rare to see animals of the menil, melanistic and white coat variations as well. Only bucks have antlers, which are broad and shovel-shaped. They are grazing animals with preferred habitat consisting mixed woodland and open grassland. They will also browse – eating the leaves and stems of brush species – and directly compete with white-tail deer for limited forage.

During the rut, fallow bucks will spread out and females move between them looking for a suitable mat. It is at this time of year fallow deer are relatively un-grouped compared to the rest of the year when they try to stay together in groups ranging from 5 to 50 animals. During the rut, males become very aggressive towards one another and will fight to the death.

Like whitetail, the male fallow is known as a buck, the female as a doe and the fawns, as well, fawns. Adult bucks are can reach about 3 feet high at the shoulders and weight 130 to 190 pounds. Does are smaller, being about 2.5 feet high at the shoulder and weighing from 70 to 120 pounds. Fawns are born during the spring. The life span of the fallow deer is about 15 years in captivity, but much less in the wild. Since fallow deer are not native to the U.S. they are not protected. Most states allow hunters to harvest them at any time of the year.

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