Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

February 1994


Published in Great Plains Research 4:1 (February 1994). Copyright © 1994 The Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Used by permission.


Movements of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Rafinesque) in the eastern Great Plains and Midwest were examined. The proportion of deer that move between distinct summer and winter home ranges varies among different populations. Seasonal migration between home ranges is influenced primarily by phenological period, agricultural activities, and the availability of cover and food. Corn provides a nearly unlimited source of cover and food in summer and early fall. In late fall and early winter, deer move to areas of permanent cover, such as wooded river bottoms, draws, or slopes. Hunting, crop harvest, or seasonal change may influence deer movements and distribution, depending on the past experiences of individual deer and their situation. Emigration rates increase with deer population density because of increased social pressures, increases mayor may not be proportional to the increase in overall populations. The ability of white-tailed deer to adapt to human activities has allowed them to thrive throughout the region, and current populations are stable to increasing. The availability of large tracts of secure winter cover and safe travel corridors between seasonal ranges are the primary factors limiting their populations.