Blacktail Deer

The Sitka black-tailed deer is smaller, stockier, and has a shorter face than other members of the black- tailed group. Fawns are born in early June and weigh 6 to 8 pounds (2.7-3.6 kg) at birth. The average October live weight of adults is about 80 pounds (36 kg) for does and 120 pounds (54.5 kg) for bucks, although dressed-weight bucks of over 200 pounds (90.1 kg) have been reported. The summer coat of reddish-brown is replaced by dark brownish gray in winter. Antlers are dark brown with typical black-tailed branching. Normal adult antler development is three points (including the eyeguard) on each side. Antlers are relatively small, with very few scoring more than 110 points by the Boone and Crockett system.

Their average life span is about 10 years, but a few are known to have attained an age of at least 15.

Habitat & Diet

Summer and winter home range areas vary from 30 to 1,200 acres and average about 200 acres for radio-collared deer on Admiralty Island . Migratory deer have larger annual home ranges than resident deer. The average distance between summer and winter home ranges is five miles for migratory deer and half a mile for resident deer. Movement of deer between watersheds appears to be minimal during winter.

During summer, deer generally feed on herbaceous vegetation and the green leaves of shrubs. During winter, they are restricted to evergreen forbs and woody browse. When snow is not a problem, evergreen forbs such as bunchberry and trailing bramble are preferred. During periods of deep snow, woody browse such as blueberry, yellow cedar and hemlock, and arboreal lichens are used. Woody browse alone, however, is not an adequate diet and deer rapidly deplete their energy reserves when restricted to such forage.


The breeding season (or rut) peaks during late November. Breeding bucks spend little time foraging and by late November have used up much of their fat reserve. Does, however, generally enter December in prime condition. Does breed during their second year of life and continue producing fawns annually until they are 10 or 12 years of age. Reproductive success decreases rapidly beyond 10 to 12 years and by age 15, which is probably the maximum life expectancy, reproduction has essentially ceased. Prime age does (5 to 10 years) typically produce two fawns annually.