Coues Deer (video)
Arizona's other deer, the Coues, is a subspecies of the white-tailed deer. Coues deer are most common in Arizona's southeastern mountains, but range up on to the Mogollon Rim and into the White Mountains. They are most abundant in areas of predictable summer precipitation. They prefer woodlands of chaparral, oak, and pine with interspersed clearings.
In contrast to a mule deer's equally branching antlers, those of the whitetail consist of a number of tines arising from a main beam which curves forward. Mature bucks generally have three to four tines per side.
Coat color is grayish-brown salt-and-pepper with white underparts; the face is marked with white 'halos' around the eyes and a white band across the muzzle. The most distinguishing characteristic of the whitetail is its long, broad tail. The tail is all white on the underside, gray to reddish-black on top, and is often carried high as an alarm signal.
The Coues deer is much smaller than most of its eastern cousins. Bucks stand just over 30 inches at the shoulder and rarely weigh over 100 pounds. Does average 65 pounds.
A doe's first pregnancy usually results in a single fawn; thereafter she may bear twins. Fawn drop coincides with the new growth following the summer rains. Usually, a whitetail fawn will stay with its mother longer than a mule deer will.
The Coues white-tailed deer is perhaps Arizona's finest game animal. Wary, and expert at using cover, whitetails rarely offer the hunter a standing shot once jumped. Perhaps for this reason, the species has become increasingly important in the harvest. Although the statewide take has varied from 1,500 to more than 7,000 whitetails a year, depending on the vagaries of drought and fawn survival, the recent trend has been for this species to constitute an ever greater proportion of the statewide harvest. For example, whitetails comprised less than 15 percent of Arizona's deer harvest in 1961 but today, they comprise over 40 percent of total deer harvested.
When seen at a distance, two distinguishing characteristics between the species are evident in their tails and gait. The Coues has a flagging white tail and a more natural run. Mule deer on the other hand 'run' using a stiff legged, bounding gait. When at a closer range, other differences include facial markings, ear size, and antler configuration. In addition to physical features, habitat preferences vary. In Arizona's southern mountain ranges whitetails are generally found at higher elevations than are mule deer.
Breeding Period: January
Young Appear: August Average
Number of Young: 2
Distribution: 4K-10K ft in central and southeastern Arizona
Habitat: Oak-grasslands, chaparral, and pine forests
Food Preference: Weeds, shrubs, mast, grass, mistletoe, and cacti fruits in season
Range: 4 sq. miles
Live Weight: M-125lbs.; F-80lbs.
Predators: Mountain lion, bobcat, eagle, and coyote