State animal. Found throughout North America, the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was adopted as South Carolina’s state animal in 1972. The trade and exportation of deerskins was vital to the economy of colonial South Carolina, and the species remains one of the state’s most popular game animals. Elusive white-tails, which may run as fast as thirty miles per hour, inhabit every county in South Carolina. The underside of this deer’s body and tail are completely white, a color particularly noticeable as the animal “flags” its tail when alarmed. Adult does (female deer) average between 100 and 110 pounds; adult males, or bucks, average 140 pounds. The heaviest doe recorded in South Carolina weighed 175 pounds; the heaviest buck, 316 pounds. Bucks begin growing antlers in April. As antlers consist of growing bone, they remain covered with blood vessels and nerves, or “velvet” skin, until the antlers harden in late August. Bucks generally shed their antlers in January and February. Deer have a reddish coat in the summer and a thicker, gray or dark brown coat during winter. The primary breeding season for deer takes place between mid-October and mid- November. Deer prefer a fertile, diverse habitat. Since natural predators no longer present a serious threat to deer, recreational hunting provides a check for overpopulation and disease. Deer hunting has the ancillary benefit of generating some $200 million annually in the state. Overpopulation became a growing concern in the last decades of the twentieth century, however, with crop damage and deer vehicle accidents showing significant increases by the end of the century.
Whitehead, G. Kenneth. Deer of the World. London: Constable, 1972.