Know Ohio: White-tailed Deer

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ASHTON: AWWE…. OH I’M JUST FAWNING OVER THIS LITTLE CUTIE. DID YOU KNOW THAT OHIO HAS AN OFFICIAL STATE MAMMAL

IT’S THE WHITE TAILED DEER! (SHOW PHOTO)

ACTUALLY IT’S NOT JUST OUR STATE MAMMAL, WE SHARE THIS DESIGNATION WITH 11 OTHER STATES TOO. THAT MAKES IT THE MOST POPULAR STATE ANIMAL SYMBOL.

SEE THEY LIVE JUST ABOUT EVERYWHERE IN THE AMERICAS. FROM CANADA DOWN TO PERU AND BOLIVIA.

BUT OHIO HAS A SPECIAL CONNECTION TO THE WHITE-TAILED DEER. OUR NICKNAME – THE BUCKEYE STATE - IS DIRECTLY RELATED TO IT. SEE, A BUCK IS A MALE DEER AND BACK IN THE DAY NATIVE AMERICAN’S THOUGHT THE NUT OF THE BUCKEYE TREE LOOKED A LOT LIKE THE EYE OF A BUCK.  ALONG THE WAY THE NAME FOR THE TREE GOT ASSOCIATED WITH THE PEOPLE OF OHIO AND WELL IT JUST STUCK.

SO MAYBE YOU’RE WONDERING WELL IF A BUCK IS A MALE DEER, WHAT’S A FEMALE? A DOE OF COURSE. AND BABY DEER ARE CALLED FAWNS. SOMETHING NEAT ABOUT FAWNS – THEY ARE BORN WITH WHITE SPOTS. AS THEY GROW UP THOUGH THE SPOTS FADE AWAY.

ALL OF THESE DEER HAVE BRIGHT WHITE FUR ON THE UNDERSIDE OF THEIR TAILS. THEY USE THEIR TAILS TO SIGNAL WARNING WHEN THEY SENSE DANGER.  YOU CAN ALSO SEE THEIR FLASHING WHITE TAIL AS THEY RUN. THEY ARE SPEEDY GUYS ABLE TO RUN AS FAST AS 40 MILES PER HOUR AND JUMP OVER NINE FEET HIGH!

IT’S NO WONDER THAT THEY WERE AN IMPORTANT ANIMAL TO THE NATIVE AMERICANS. NATIVES USED DEER MEAT FOR FOOD, DEER FUR AND SKINS FOR CLOTHING, AND EVEN DEER BONES AND ANTLERS FOR TOOLS.  SPIRITUAL LEADERS WOULD EVEN WEAR ANTLERS IN CEREMONIES.

EUROPEAN SETTLERS VALUED THE DEER FOR MANY OF THE SAME REASONS.  IN FACT, THEY USED DEER SKINS LIKE MONEY TO TRADE AND BARTER FOR SUPPLIES.  BUCKSKINS TENDED TO BE WORTH MORE THAN DOESKINS BECAUSE BUCKS ARE USUALLY BIGGER.  DID YOU EVER WONDER WHY “A BUCK” MEANS THE SAME THING AS “A DOLLAR?”  NOW I BET YOU CAN FIGURE OUT WHY!

UNFORTUNATELY, WITH ALL THAT HUNTING GOING ON, THE DEER POPULATION SHRUNK STEADILY UNTIL 1904, WHEN THERE WERE NO MORE WHITE-TAILED DEER IN OHIO!   EFFORTS TO BRING THEM BACK INTO THE STATE GRADUALLY HELPED TO REBUILD THE POPULATION, AND BY THE MIDDLE OF THE 1900S THERE WERE DEER AGAIN IN ALL OF OHIO’S COUNTIES.

PEOPLE TODAY STILL HUNT DEER IN OHIO FOR FOOD AND FOR THEIR FUR. BUT THE GOVERNMENT HELPS REGULATE HUNTING SO THAT THE DEER POPULATION DOESN’T GET TOO LOW.         

THAT’S LUCKY FOR US BECAUSE I’M ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR ONE OF THESE GUYS IN PERSON!

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