Blacktail Deer

Scientific Name:     Odocoileus hemionus 

When is the best time to view deer in Monterey County and where is the best viewing?

Blacktail deer can be found throughout Monterey County. The best time to view blacktail deer is at dawn and dusk, while they are in search of food. They prefer remaining at the edge of a forest, yet close to the coast. This location gives them a balance of meadows for grazing and forest for shelter. Local deer are viewed most often in meadows or close to golf courses where food is plentiful.  


About Blacktail Deer

Blacktail deer have excellent vision. Deer have pupils that open wider than human pupils, allowing them enhanced night vision. Their eyes are located on each side of the face to allow them a 360 degree view to see and react to predators coming their way.

Another protection method is how quickly deer can hop away. Deer use bounding hops, like those of jackrabbits, called “stotting” or “pronking” to escape predators. Deer are relatively quiet mammals, but when they feel threatened they can produce a loud sneeze-like sound. In order to protect their females, bucks will make noise, including grunting noises.

Adult bucks take no part in raising fawns, and generally remain solitary or form bachelor groups throughout the summer. Bucks tend to remain at higher elevations, while does and fawns stay at lower elevations. Family groups usually consist of a doe and her fawns, and sometimes her fawns from the previous year. Occasionally, groups of several does may be seen together. In the winter, deer may be observed in larger groups of 15 to 30. 


Blacktail Deer Fun Facts

  • Horns remain permanently affixed to the skull, but antlers shed every year
  • Fawn spots begin to disappear at 5 months
  • Largest herbivore native to Monterey County
  • Polish their antlers by rubbing them against bushes/tree trunks
  • Reddish coat in summer, grayish brown coat in winter

Habitat: From the coastal islands of Alaska, down the West Coast to Baja Mexico; prefer hill terrain; from dry brush lands to high tundra, riparian areas in dry regions; young forests; Coastal central California to just north of Los Angeles

 Length: 4–6 feet tall

Weight: Adult buck weighs 140–200 pounds; adult doe weighs 90–130 pounds

Diet: Weeds, leaves, twigs; select the most nutritious plants and parts of plants

Lifespan: 5 – 11 years in the wild

Reproduction: Deer normally breed in November and December; pregnancy lasts 180 to 200 days. Doe gives birth to one fawn or twins in the spring.