EVERY YEAR something like 20 million American hunters go out after whitetail deer, and every year something like one in ten actually comes home with venison.
The last chance for Washington area hunters to fill a deer tag ends with the Virginia season at sundown this Saturday. If you wound up with nothing in the freezer this season, maybe it's because you don't know as much as you think you do about this country's No. 1 big-game animal.
Here's a quiz to test your knowledge. Answer all the questions correctly and you're knowledgeable about your prey; get 15 right and you're still in the game; a score of 10 means you should study a bit more before going afield. Anyone scoring lower should stick to TV dinners.
1. The whitetail deer will roam over vast tracts of land in search of food or mates. True or false?
2. Deer would rather eat apples than any other food available. True or false?
3. A "buck rub," a small tree or seedling visibly scraped by the antlers of a deer, is a sure sign that the deer will visit the spot again, hence hunters should station themselves nearby. True or false?
4. The size of a hoofprint can be used to determine the sex of a deer. True or false?
5. Good hunters don't mind checking the droppings of deer to see what they've been feeding on. Undigested dime-sized, flat, black seeds indicate a diet of:
c. Wild pears.
6. The age of a buck can be determined from the number of antler points. True or false?
7. Recent wildlife-management studies put the average whitetail buck's life span at:
a. 21/2 years.
b. Five years.
c. Ten years.
8. Because of their narrow hooves, deer shun swampy ground. True or false?
9. Deer almost always avoid walking across frozen lakes or creeks. True or false?
10. It's safe to cross shallow waters or climb over fences with loaded guns as long as the safety is engaged. True or false?
11. The largest whitetail buck ever shot in this country was in Michigan. It weighed:
a. 290 pounds.
b. 368 pounds.
c. 420 pounds.
12. Many hunters prefer deer stands high in trees, because it's said that deer never look up. Do they look up?
13. Although regulations often prohibit its use, the most effective ammunition for deer hunting is:
a. 12-gauge 00 buckshot.
b. 12-gauge rifled slug.
c. Soft-tipped rifle bullet.
14. A wise hunter hangs his hunting clothes outdoors for a number of days prior to the hunt. True or false?
15. Like fish, deer have a sweet tooth. Hence, fishermen's lure-scent sprays, such as grape and strawberry flavors, effectively draw a deer's interest. True or false?
16. Commercially produced deer scents serve more to:
a. Camouflage human odors.
b. Draw deer to the odor.
17. What proportion of the field-dressed weight should be added to determine the live weight of a deer?
a. One fourth.
b. One fifth.
c. One third.
18. As bucks shed their antlers in late winter, both antlers fall off at the same time. True or false?
19. Deer like windy woods because hunters can't hear them coming. True or false?
20. Well-managed hunting of female deer (does) along with males makes for healthier, stronger herds. True or false?
DEER QUIZ ANSWERS -- Here are the answers to the quiz.
1. False. Deer seldom range much more than a mile from the spot where they are born.
2. False. Acorns (particularly white oak) are favored, although deer love apples too.
3. False. He may not be back for a year.
4. False. Never mind what your dear old deer- bagging daddy may have told you.
5. b, Persimmon.
6. False. There's no consistent correlation between antler size and age.
7. a, 21/2 years.
8. False. Many deer live in swamps a man on foot can't cross. That's why they live there.
9. True. Once a deer falls on ice it may not be able to rise.
10. False. Always unload the gun.
11. c, 420 pounds. Whitetail bucks in this region average less than half that size.
12. Yes. So sit still.
13. c, Soft-tipped rifle bullet.
14. True. It softens the scent of civilization.
15. True. Deer are more curious than they can afford to be.
16. a, Camouflage human odors.
17. b, One-fourth.
18. False. The antlers usually come off one at a time, sometimes days apart.
19. False. They hate wind.
20. True. Bucks-only hunting can weaken the gene pool.
The buck in the picture is a seven-pointer.