THE WHITETAIL IS KING OF THEM ALL
Throughout the entire range of the whitetail, hunting prospects for 1955 are excellent, with more hunters expected to bag more deer than in any year in the past 20. Where hunted to date, record kills are reported and it is estimated that by season's end 800,000 whitetails will have been harvested. Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin—where seasons are over or under way—all report record harvests. In Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia similarly large harvests are anticipated. Maine's total kill fell short of expectations but in Illinois, where there is a closed season, deer increases have spurred agitation for a bow season next year. Oklahoma, which previously permitted deer hunting only in its southeastern counties, opened the entire state to hunters this year.
Characterized by its long, bushy and conspicuously white tail, its single-beam antlers and its unique ability to utilize civilization to its own advantage, the whitetail now inhabits 43 of the 48 states. Its numbers exceed 8� million and man himself is responsible for the rapid increase. By thinning forests and clearing lands for cultivation, the potential whitetail range has been multiplied many times.
THE MULE DEER CHALLENGES THE WEST
Populations of the mule deer in the 15 states which comprise its range are estimated this year at more than 2� million and the total harvest is expected to be in excess of 500,000. Montana had 75% hunter success this year, and in North Dakota, as in many other states, deer were found moving into areas not previously part of their range. Increased herds greeted gunners this season in Colorado (which has a two-deer limit), Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington. Populations in Nebraska and Texas are up, while Arizona, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming report herds comparable to 1954 but point out that strict controls are responsible for maintaining normal numbers. In Utah, where there are an estimated three deer to every hunter, the problem is too many deer. Populations have increased so rapidly they threaten to get out of hand completely without year-round supervision and game management. Nevada added to its regular deer season 13 deer-of-either-sex special hunts to help control deer-herd increases. Clearing of heavy timber areas in portions of California is partially responsible for its increased deer herds, since the animals tend to move into cleared regions to avail themselves of new food sources not present in thickly timbered areas.
Also known as mulie or mule, the mule deer is named for its prominent ears. It is sometimes confused with the blacktail because of its black-tipped tail and general similarity.
THE BLACKTAIL EXPANDS ITS RANGE
The 1955 blacktail population is reported at just under one million. This season 30,000 blacktails were harvested in California; 31,000 in Oregon and 40,000 in Washington. All three states reported increased populations. In Washington herds were up 10% over last year, making 1955 the record deer year in the history of the state.
In general body characteristics the blacktail and mule deer are sufficiently similar in appearance to be frequently confused. The blacktail, or Columbian, deer is best differentiated from the mule by its generally smaller size and large bushy tail. When pursued, it sometimes raises its tail in the manner of the whitetail, revealing the white underside. The mule deer is believed to have first been called "black-tail" by pioneers, who later retracted the original name after discovering farther west the Columbian deer with its more prominently black tail. Using the stiff-legged gait typical of the mulie, the blacktail is an "edge dweller," haunting dense forests and heavy underbrush. In California it is often called "redwood deer" because of its preference for redwood forests. The blacktail more closely resembles the whitetail in wariness but has the large ears and double branched antlers of the mulie. In range it is more limited than either, inhabiting only California, Oregon and Washington in the U.S. A few individuals have been reported crossing over into border states but these are insignificant in number.
WHAT MAKES A TROPHY AND HOW IT IS JUDGED