Whitetail Winter Wonderland
By: Brandon Wikman

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Bone-busting air has escaped the arctic of northern Canada and choked the upper Midwest with a frosty blanket of ice. Much of the northern part of the country is sporting negative temperatures with blistering winds complementing the fierce conditions. Ice, snow, and cold weather clearly mark winter’s early arrival.

The upper Midwest was recently blasted with a blizzard. The entire state of Wisconsin turned into a complete whiteout. Snow plastered houses, buried cars, and in turn, progressively made millions of children across the country blissful that school’s canceled.  

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I always found it fascinating to realize that there are hundreds of woodland critters that cope with this type of bitter weather four months out of the year. It’s amazing to really stop and think about just how they do it. It truly gives you much more of an appreciation for their courage and strong-will to survive. Many of us shiver at the thought of walking outside to chip ice from our windshield or shovel a pile of heaping snow. Whitetails, along with all forest and field creatures, defy the odds of death to see the spring season meltdown.  

Have you ever wondered if a whitetail’s feet get cold? Many of us couldn’t bare the thought of walking into knee-high snow without wool socks and an extreme pair of super-insulated boots. Deer don’t have the luxury of slipping on boots, shoes, or socks for that matter, they bare-‘hoof’ it. A deer’s hooves are basically like our toenails. They have little, if any sort of feeling. The temperatures of ground surfaces don’t bother a deer one bit. They are able to walk on ice, through water, or in snow without getting frostbitten.

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As many of us generally know, deer won’t move much during frigid temperatures. They tend to find dense cover, a down-tree, or any other structure that keeps them out of the wind and a few degrees warmer. They find these locations near a food source. Soybeans, cut-corn, or food plot fields are just some of the hot spots deer find travel to engulf an all-you-can-eat buffet. The reason deer will bed near the food source is because they are able to conserve energy, which helps them ultimately survive the drastic weather conditions. Deer focus on saving the miles for body-heat, strength, and endurance. Thanks to a thick body of fur, deer have a natural built-in sleeping bag. Their coat helps them insulate body heat and block out wind.

The most fascinating surviving mechanism deer have is there blood-flow circulation. In climates where freezing temperatures are just another day, a whitetail’s blood flows to the brain and critical organs, such as the heart and lungs. The blood flow avoids the animals’ extremities, such as ears or legs. These places on a whitetail’s body are the least important. They play absolutely no role in keeping the deer from dying of hypothermia. 

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If a deer’s blood flowed to it’s legs, they’d lose heat and much colder blood would flow back into the deer’s body. This would make the animals much chillier and begin shutting down systems from hypothermia. The legs turn into a state of senseless. This amazing capability of adaptation stirs my interest.

As mankind shuffle through their closet in search of winter jackets, snow-pants, and gloves, deer grow their own jacket and let there body systems take control. This is just another incredible attribute to the amazing whitetail world. 
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