By Mark Kenyon
While recently reading Heart and Blood by Richard Nelson, a great book about deer in North America, I was struck by the incredible historic significance deer have held in this country. Whitetails have been intertwined with humans for thousands and thousands of years, and still today they hold sway over us in so many ways. With that said, I thought I’d share a few interesting nuggets of history regarding whitetails on this continent that I’ve come across recently.
Below, I’ve pulled facts from books such as Heart and Blood, Deerland by Al Cambronne, and The Mindful Carnivore by Tovar Cerulli, which I think you’ll find rather interesting! Enjoy.
– It is believed that whitetail deer first evolved in North America 4 MILLION years ago!
– Fossilized remains of ancient whitetails suggest that they looked almost exactly the same then, as they do now.
– About 1 million years ago, black-tail deer evolved and separated from whitetails, while mule deer are believed to have evolved away some time after that
– The first deer hunting season in the US was enacted in Portsmouth, Rhode Island in 1698 (No deer hunting May 1 – Nov 1).
– During the days of market hunting, a deer skin was worth about $1, eventually leading to the term “one buck” being used in place of one dollar.
– In 1880, in Michigan alone, more than a 100,000 deer carcasses were sent to cities for sale.
– In Minnesota, a father and son claimed to have killed 6,000 deer themselves in 1860.
– Back in the early 1900’s, the whitetail population in North America dropped to as low as 350,000 (mostly due to the market hunting, mentioned above). Now it’s back up to over 32,000,000!
Are you aware of any of interesting historical whitetail factoids? Please share them in the comments and we’ll add to the list!