Key Deer

an deer walking outline


[Locking horns] The video below is of two bucks locking horns. I never realized that deer don’t try to harm one another in their power struggles. They lock horns and if not locked properly they try again. When they get it right they push. And push they do. 

[Key Deer Bucks Hit Car] The bucks are tearing up my yard and knocking things over that I didn’t think could be knocked over. Say goodbye to our saplings and new plants. But they sure are magnificent!

fighting-bucksDeer Fighting Videos at Mating Time. If you turn up your speakers you can hear them thrashing in the woods and hear the horns clacking and their heavy breathing. On the first video near the beginning, you can hear him sort of growl.  The were at it for about twenty minutes and they didn’t seem to pay me much mind. It was early morning when the noise of their antlers woke me and I ran outside naked and maybe they thought I was a hairless Keys Skunk Ape. (The videos below need editing. You’re welcome to copy and edit them if you send me a copy.)






wound buck from fight


Wounded buck from fight.





fight at Barnacle-B and B-00



Even does fight. This was taken at Barnacle Bed & Breakfast.




head downThe Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) is a subspecies of the Virginia white-tailed deer. These deer inhabit Big Pine Key and various surrounding keys. The Key deer is smallest of all white-tailed deer. They are not found anywhere else in the world.

 Due to uncontrolled hunting and habitat destruction, their numbers were estimated less than 50 animals in 1940’s. With the establishment of National Key Deer Refuge in 1957 and intensive law enforcement efforts, the population has since increased and has now stabilized. Present population is 250 to 300 deer with two-thirds of this population located on Big Pine Key.

The shoulder height of Key deer is between 24-28 inches. Does weight 45-65 pounds while bucks weigh 55 to 75. Rutting season activities begin in September, peaking in early October and decreasing gradually through November and December. Some breeding may occur as late as February. The gestation period is 204 days with fawns born April through June. At birth fawns weigh 2 to 4 pounds. Antlers are dropped February through March, and re-growth begins almost immediately so that by June, bucks with 2-inch stubs are seen. Antler growth is completed by August, and velvet is rubbed and kicked off in early September.

eating flowers buckThey feed on native plants such as red, black and white mangroves, thatch palm berries and over 150 other species of plants. Key deer can tolerate small amounts of salt in their water and they will also drink brackish water, but fresh water is also essential for their survival. They must also have suitable habitat to ensure their future existence.

No records exist documenting the origin of the deer in the keys. It is believed the deer migrated to the keys from the mainland many thousands of years ago, across a long land bridge. As the Wisconsin Glacier melted, the sea rose dividing the land bridge into small islands now known as the Florida Keys.

The earliest mention of Key deer is found in the 18th century memoirs of Fontaneda, a shipwrecked Spaniard held captive by the local Indians. Records suggest that the deer were found around Key West and were used for food by residents and ship crews alike. Although early records indicated sporadic wider distribution of Key deer throughout the lower keys, current data indicates they occupy a range from Johnson Keys to Saddlebunch Keys.

As of now the deer have come back in such large numbers (700-800) that they are even exporting them to Cudjoe Key. This is a great example of how conservation can work.


deer partsdeer balls hoofDeer parts






eyeslaugh teethtongue look up







gun-air capture net rescue wkrs muzzled sick doeOne time a doe was dying and the rescuers from the Deer Refuge came with their new capture device: The Bat Net. It was a compressed air gun that shot out a red net that was supposed cover and entangle a deer. Well, it didn’t work as advertised. The bang was so loud we feared the dear died of a heart attack. Because he was too close the net hit the deer in the side and went haphazardly over part of the deer and it was Panic City. With it’s last bit of energy that deer FREAKED!! Head and feet flashing like the wind with plenty of body wiggle too.

They only got some of the net around a couple of its feet but it did finally give up and surrender. The rescuers were as surprised at the loud bang as the deer was. They had never even fired the gun before but didn’t think it would make such a loud bang. They had no idea, except what the brochure said, what the gun would do or how far it away they had to be from the deer. Evidently they weren’t far enough.


rabbit-doeThe best picture of all is the domestic rabbit that someone abandoned in the Refuge laying down with a doe. Another time that same rabbit, being a horny rabbit, was humping the same doe as she just lay there. I don’t think does can smile.




Nice Pictures


feeding 9 does


grooming two





lying down two

lying two






lying 4 does








antlerbark-scaringantler molting

buck 10 point downbuck look uplying grass buck

bucks 3 youngchicken deer one_antler