TheWhite-Tailed Deer

The White-Tailed Deer (Cervus leucorous), by Josef (or Joseph) Wolf, 1820-1899. Plate XX in Wolf. The commentary on the facing page explains, "The White-Tailed Deer was first described by Mr. Douglas, in the Zoological Journal for 1829, where he gives the following interesting notice of its range and habits:—

“This species is the most common Deer in the districts adjoining the River Columbia, more especially in the fertile prairies of the Cowalidske and Multnomah River, within one hundred miles of the Western Ocean. They are also occasionally met with near the base of the Rocky Mountains, on the west side of that ridge. Their favourite haunts are the coppices composed of Corylus, Ilnbus, Rosa, and Amelanchier, on the declivities of the low hills or dry undulating grounds. Their gait is two ambling steps and a bound, the bound exceeding double the distance of the steps, which mode they do not depart from even when closely pursued. In running the tail is erect, wagging from side to side, and from its unusual length is the most remarkable feature about the animal. The voice of the male calling the female is like the sound produced by blowing in the muzzle of a gun, or in a hollow cane. The voice of the female calling the young is mm mm, pronounced shortly. This is well imitated by the native tribes, with a stem of Heracleum lanatum, cut at a joint, leaving six inches of a tube. With this, aided by a head and horns of a full-grown buck, which the hunter carries with him as a decoy, and which he moves backwards and forwards among the long grass, alternately feigning the voice with the tube, the unsuspecting animal is attracted within a few yards in the hope of finding its partner, when instantly up springs the hunter and plants an arrow in his object. They are tenacious of life, and often escape although both shoulders be broken. The flesh is excellent when in good order, remarkably tender, and wellflavoured.”

The last sentences may surprise present-day readers of a zoological book, but of course deer are game animals, and are also farmed. Venison is widely eaten.

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Wolf, Joseph. Zoological Sketches: Made for the Zoological Society of London from Animals in Their Vivarium, in the Regent's Park. Ed., with Notes, P. L. Sclater. 2 vols. Vol. I. London: Henry Graves, 1861. Internet Archive, from a copy in Harvard University, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Ernst Mayer Library. Web. 4 October 2023.

Created 4 October 2023