Deer Hunting – How Do Whitetail Cope During The Winter?
By Brandon Wikman
Whitetail deer continue to amaze me in their uncanny ability to survive through even the most frigid times of year. Animals seem to cope much better than humans when it comes to paralyzing wintery weather.
To put it in perspective – I moan and groan about having to start my vehicle in the morning when temperatures dip into the single digits. Sure, it only takes 30 seconds to accomplish this miserable feat, but I absolutely hate every second of it! Whitetail, as well as other woodland critters, can’t complain; they just live it.
Did you know that deer walk on the very tips of their toes, which are hooves? Hooves are equivalent to our toenails. They basically have no sense of feeling. If I were to walk barefoot in a foot of icy snow, my feet would turn purple! Deer don’t have a sense of feel for extremely cold ground surfaces thanks to their hooves.
Whitetail will generally not move during extremely frigid temperatures. They will sit tight and conserve as much energy as they can. They will find food, bed near it and lie low. This gives them an opportunity to survive during sub-arctic temperatures that we find common across the upper portions of the U.S. Their hide wraps their body is like a sleeping bag. Their fur is dense, which boosts their ability to stay warm.
One of the most important points to note is that a whitetail’s blood-flow varies according to different situations and circumstances. In freezing climates, such as Minnesota and upper Michigan, a whitetail’s blood flows to the brain and critical organs, such as the heart. The blood flow avoids the animals’ extremities because those are the least important parts of the body that will help them survive.
If a deer’s blood flowed to its legs, they’d lose heat and much colder blood would flow back into the deer’s body. This would make the animals much chillier and begin shutting down systems from hypothermia. The legs turn into a state of senselessness. This amazing capability of adaptation stirs my interest.
Throughout winters the human race packs on their cold gear, while deer grow their own jacket and let their body systems take control. This is just another incredible attribute to the amazing whitetail deer.
With so many strong attributes there is no wonder why it's tough to nail down a big buck during deer hunting