Forest Preserve District of Cook County, Illinois
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Deer
Nature Bulletin No. 114   May 3, 1947
Forest Preserve District of Cook County
William N. Erickson, President
Roberts Mann, Supt. of Conservation

DEER
The white-tailed or Virginia deer is the best known of all our large game !animals and the only one which has so adapted itself to civilization that it is common in or close to thickly settled regions. There are wild deer in the Palos and Deer Grove preserves of Cook County. In some states they have increased to the point where, frequently, many starve for lack of winter food in spite of thousands killed annually by hunters.

The Virginia deer probably has played the most important part of all our native mammals in the history of this continent. The beaver influenced the exploration and conquest of the Northwest Territory. The buffalo played a vital part. But the deer, numerous almost everywhere east of the Great Plains from the Gulf to Mexico to Canada furnished the principal supply of meat and clothing for the Indians and for the early explorers, trappers and settlers. The expert woodcraft and markmanship of the Continental riflemen and the pioneers were learned in hunting the deer, squirrel and turkey.

The white-tailed deer, black-tailed or mule deer, elk, moose and caribou are all members of the deer family. Antelope are not. The deer, camel, giraffe and ox families are hoofed mammals with four chambered stomachs. They live on vegetation which is swallowed without much chewing and enters the first or "rumen" chamber. Later, portions are brought back up and thoroughly chewed as "cuds". When a cud is swallowed it goes into a second chamber, then a third and finally a fourth.

The white-tail buck stands from 36 to 40 inches high at the shoulder and weighs from 150 to 300 pounds, or more. Each spring he grows a new pair of antlers which are shed the following winter. The does are hornless and smaller. From one to three, usually two, fawns are born in late spring or early summer, marked with large white spots which disappear before winter. The adults are reddish brown in summer, grayish brown in winter, with white underparts. The tail, held stiffly erect when they trot or run, is pure white underneath and very conspicuous.

What would an alderman do if he had four stomachs?


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