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Couse Whitetail in South America?

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It'll be interesting to see what happens with the research. I tend to agree with B&C on it, though. There are just too many other subspecies around that southern section of 8 to conclusively say the ones in Durango or that area are pure Coues.


So who actually drew up that distrbution chart?


As an interesting aside, there's a guy on another hunting site I visit who claims the Carmen Mt. whitetails in TX are nothing more than Coues deer. He also claims they got there when his dad and uncles transported them from ARIZONA after a trade for TX mule deer. This all supposedly happened during the realm of Roosevelt's Conservation Camps. The deer relocation was allegedly part of it.


When I first read his claims, I called Wakeling to see if there are any records of such a trade. He couldn't find anything.



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I believe the diagram is based on the work of Lowell K Halls who is/was a prominent Whitetail researcher (see reference in bottom right of diagram). He put out a book called Whitetailed deer: ecology and management. You can search the internet for more info on that book.


I received the map from Manny Chee who received it from a biologist in Mexico. I believe it's the distribution that the mexican game and fish uses for their deer subspecies and that they provided to B&C to help with this issue. B&C told me that essentially they had no reason to believe it wasn't accurate and that the distribution they used was more based on the fact that most hunters didn't hunt south of sonora. A couple years ago, I was told on more than one occassion that the B&C board would likely expand the range. But that sort of stalled and now they are funding a project to look at genetics, which I think is a fine idea. Of course there will be some areas of gradation (sp?) between species but I think B&C is looking for a test to show a buck is at least 90% coues to be considered a coues deer.



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It would be good if Jim Heffelfinger gave us some input. I don't have his book yet; if you have it, does it mention anything about the deer distribution in Mexico?? -TONY

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The Coues deer range pretty much ends in southern Sonora.


I have seen a couple deer while fishing at El Salto, which is in Sinaloa, about an hour north of Mazatlan. They are small like Coues but a different subspecies. All the ones I saw were does, so I don't know what the antlers look like. They still call them cola blancas, though.


Below is a list of most of the subspecis of Odocoileus virginianus . -TONY


38 sub-species

Odocoileus virginianus acapulcensis : Acapulco White-tailed Deer, southern Mexico (Caton 1877) .

Odocoileus virginianus borealis : Northern Woodland White-tailed Deer, southeastern Canada and northeastern United States (Miller 1900) .

Odocoileus virginianus cariacou : Venado Deer, French Guiana and North Brazil (Boddaert 1784) .

Odocoileus virginianus carminis : Carmen Mountain White-tailed Deer, northern Mexico (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus chiriquensis : Chiriqui White-tailed Deer, Panama (J.A. Allen 1910) .

Odocoileus virginianus clavium : Florida Key White-tailed Deer, Florida Keys (Barbour & G.M. Allen 1922) .

Odocoileus virginianus couesi : Coues White-tailed, Fantail Deer or Arizona White-tailed Deer, Sunta Cruz, Arizona (Coues & Yarrow 1875) .

Odocoileus virginianus curassavicus : Venado Deer (8), Curacao Island (Hummelinek 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus dacotensis : Dakota White-tailed Deer, Alberta and northern Dakota (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus goudotii : Venado Deer (3), Columbia (Andes) and west Venezuela (Gay & Gervais 1846) .

Odocoileus virginianus gymnotis : Venado Deer (2), Venezuela and Guianas (Wergmann 1833) .

Odocoileus virginianus hiltonensis : Hilton Head Island White-tailed Deer, Hilton Head Island (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus leucurus : Columbian White-tailed Deer, Oregon and western coastal area (Douglas 1929) .

Odocoileus virginianus macrourus : Kansas White-tailed Deer, Kansas and neighboring States (Rafinesque 1817) .

Odocoileus virginianus margaritae : Venado Deer (6), Margarita Islands (Osgood 1910) .

Odocoileus virginianus mcilhennyi : Avery Island White-tailed Deer, Louisiana (Miller 1928) .

Odocoileus virginianus mexicanus : Mexican White-tailed Deer, central Mexico (Gmelin 1788) .

Odocoileus virginianus miquihuanensis : Miquihuan White-tailed Deer, central Mexico (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus nelson : Chiapas White-tailed Deer, southern Mexico and Guatamala (Merriam 1898) .

Odocoileus virginianus nigribarbis : Blackbeard Island White-tailed Deer, Blackbeard Island (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus oaxacensis : Oaxaca White-tailed Deer, southern Mexico (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus ochrourus : Northwest White-tailed Deer, northwesern United States and Canada (V. Bailey 1932) .

Odocoileus virginianus osceola : Florida Coastal White-tailed Deer, northerwestern Florida (Banqs 1896) .

Odocoileus virginianus peruvianus : Venado Deer (4), Peru (Gray 1874) .

Odocoileus virginianus rothschildi : Coiba Island White-tailed Deer, Coiba Island (Thomas 1902) .

Odocoileus virginianus seminolus : Florida White-tailed Deer, Florida (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus sinaloae : Sinaloa White-tailed Deer, mid-western Mexico (J.A. Allen 1903) .

Odocoileus virginianus taurinsulae : Bulls Island White-tailed Deer, Bulls Island (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus texanus : Texas White-tailed Deer, Texas and adjacent states (Mearns 1898) .

Odocoileus virginianus thomasi : Mexican Lowland White-tailed Deer, southeastern Mexico (Merriam 1898) .

Odocoileus virginianus toltecus : Rain Forest White-tailed Deer, southern Mexico (Saussure 1860) .

Odocoileus virginianus tropicalis : Venado Deer (7), western Columbia (Cabrera 1918) .

Odocoileus virginianus truei : Nicaragua White-tailed Deer, Nicaragua and adjacent states (Merriam 1898) .

Odocoileus virginianus ustus : Venado Deer (5), Ecuator (Trouessart 1910) .

Odocoileus virginianus venatorius : Hunting Island White-tailed Deer, Hunting Island (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus veraecrucis : Northern Veracruz White-tailed Deer, eastern Mexico (Goldman & Kellog 1940) .

Odocoileus virginianus virginianus : Virginia White-tailed Deer, Virginia and adjacent states (Zimmermann 1780) .

Odocoileus virginianus yucatanensis : Yacatan White-tailed Deer, Yucatan and Honduras (Hays 1872) .

that's alot of work you put in there bro

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Looking at Tony's list it appears that the deer you were seeing were probably one of the many subspecies of whitetail deer. Likely one of the Venado deer subspecies from that list (Odocoileus virginianus cariacou : Venado Deer, French Guiana and North Brazil (Boddaert 1784) .). Here is a webpage I found that tells a bit about the 8 South American subspecies. It gives a weight of 50kg for a buck in Venezuela, which would be fairly consistent with the size of a coues deer.



The SCI record book had a few pictures and scores of South American whitetails. You can see them from this link.


The deer in the photos from that first link are the same type of deer we used to see. I never knew there were so many sub species of the white tail deer. All of your posts have been most helpful. Well I know now that they weren't couse but they still sure were some pretty deer. Thanks again everyone.

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That is a good list of deer you came up with.Tony. My father in-law lives in Jalisco, Mexico and has given me a few racks he has picked up.They are all forkies but have good mass and very small inside spreads.I've wondered what kind of whitetails they are.Looking at your list I think they are the Sinaloa deer.

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I've had the list of subspecies for a while now. I think I originally found it somewhere on the web, so it wasn't a lot of work for me to cut & paste it. ;)


That said, many biologists would probably say it's a bit too broad and separates a few isolated populations that do not deserve their own subspecies classification. In reality, the number of actual subsepcies is probably more like 25 or so. -TONY

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I was in Guatemala for a couple of years and every once in a while, I'd see a whitetail buck up on the wall. Most all of them had small main beams, basket like racks with decent mass. Short points as well. Was able to see a few deer just out of guatemala city grazing in a grassy opening. Just does though. Appeared to have very small bodies.


BTW the word deer translated to spanish is VENADO. Also a very popular Guatemalan strong liquor.

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I was at the SCI convention in Reno when this thread was spun. You may be interested in knowing that one of the international hunters I've written books for, Hubert Thummler of Mexico City, has created two awards for hunters.


One is for hunters who collect == in a single year ==four of the various whitetail races found in Mexico; the other is for hunters who collect all of Mexico's races of mule deer and white-tailed deer over multiple years. One American already has qualified for the first award and is working on the other.


The various South American whitetails vary greatly in size -- from about 40 pounds on the hoof to maybe 140-150 pounds, depending upon the subspecies. The smallest are closest to the Equator, the largest are found the farthest south. A similar thing happens in reverse in this hemisphere; the farther north you go the larger the deer.


When I edited the SCI record books, some of the photos submitted by members showed a couple of races of South American whitetails with nearly as much white as gray/brown/red on their coats. Their white throat patches continued unbroken down their necks through their bellies and on to the insides of their legs and rumps. Color of their coats varied all over the place, mostly depending upon the season and sometimes their locality.


The interesting thing, I think, about the whitetail is that the closer it is found to the Equator the longer its rut -- and not all does will be in estrus at anywhere near the same time. Bucks with hard antlers and bucks in velvet can be seen every month of the year. Farther south, the rut stabilizes and occurs in the fall (which is our spring).


Also interesting to me is that all of the North American and European deer species (whitetails, elk, moose, red deer, fallow, axis, etc.) released in the Southern Hemisphere have switched their breeding cycles to correspond to the seasons there.



Bill Quimby

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Yes, there are small white-tailed deer in northern South America. Northern South America has BOTH brocket deer species and the white-tailed deer.


They live in the countries of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana, and perhaps part of NE Brazil.


These deer are either similar in size to Coue's deer or smaller.


However, I don't know of the deer east of Venezuela are known to often carry large antlers. Most antlers are small, very small. South American whitetails tend to also have shorter tails in proportion to body size.


The deer that are more dimorphic with relatively large antlers and tails are the white-tailed deer of Venezuela to the Colombian borderlands (Odocoileus virginianus gymnotis and Odocoileus virginianus apurensis). These deer are open savannah subspecies similar in ecology to the Texas, Carmen's Mountain, and Coue's Whitetailed Deer.


The Venezuelan deer have relatively large antlers with many tines, like the Coue's deer.


They live in the Llanos wetlands and savannahs that they share with capybara, orinoco crocodiles, jabiru storks, roseated spoonbills, egrets, anacondas, boas, and piranhas...and several cattle. This area is cattle country too.

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In the early 1990s, disgusted with what then was available to hunters, I got the presumptuous notion to do the research and write a book myself about the forty species (and many dozens of subspecies) of the world's deer, a book that would be easy for a layperson to read and understand.


I had written perhaps 75,000-80,000 words when other projects came along, but the research triggered an interest that persists. It also led me to hunt as many types (17) as I could. Some hunters become obsessed with wild sheep (retarded cliff carp); I am that way with the world's many types of deer.


My goal was to include personal anecdotes from people who had actually hunted a deer being described, as was done with the Peruvian whitetail. At the time, I knew only two or three people who had hunted whitetails in South America. Since then, I've visited three countries on that continent and made a few contacts down there. Don't know if I'll ever work on this manuscript again. There simply are too many types of deer in Asia that have never been (and never will be) encountered by hunters from "outside."


CWT.com members may be interested in what I learned about the eight races of white-tailed deer in South America, however.


As you can see, a lot more work was/is needed for this chapter.








On average, the whitetails of South America are smaller than the North American races, standing only twenty four to thirty two inches (61-81cm) at the shoulder, which makes the largest of these whitetails comparable to the Coues and Carmen Mountains white-tailed deer and the largest of the Central American whitetails. Weights are similar to the smallest North American races, from sixty to one hundred pounds. The largest South American specimens come from Brazil, the smallest from Margarita Island off the coast of Venezuela.


The antlers I have seen, and the photographs published in the SCI Record Book of Trophy Animals, resemble the antlers of some of the whitetails of northern Mexico. They appear to be relatively heavy, although small and usually narrow, and their tips tend to come together, some nearly touching. Antlers of mature bucks typically will have a main beam with a brow tine and two crown tines. Steve Gallizioli of Phoenix, an acquaintance who retired as the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s chief of game management in the mid-1980s and who knows as much as anyone about Arizona’s Coues deer, was quoted by the Wildlife Management Institute as saying the museum specimens he inspected while on assignment in South America indicated that the continent’s whitetails were capable of growing antlers comparable to the whitetails of Arizona. With all due respects to Steve, I think this would depend upon the race of South American deer, because the smallest subspecies surely could not grow antlers scoring the 110 points the Boone and Crockett Club has set as its minimum for Coues deer.


Some reports I have read have said it isn’t known whether all South American whitetails replace their antlers annually. But I cannot image these deer being a lone exception in the large family of deer. It is more likely that South American whitetails in some regions, like those in the southernmost portions of Central America, have no fixed season for the rut. Depending upon the region, antlers can be dropped and regrown throughout the year, and fawns can be dropped in any month. All of which must mean that these deer must get very frustrated when they go out looking for willing sexual partners. Some scientists have reported that bucks in some regions may change antlers at ten- to eleven-month intervals, but this also seems unlikely. The months when hunters can expect to find more deer with polished antlers is March to September.


The tails of South American white-tailed deer that scientists have measured are smaller in proportion to body size than North America’s whitetails, with the tails of South America’s averaging 13% to 14% of body size, compared to tails averaging 15% to 20% for North American whitetails. Taxonomists say the skulls and teeth of South America’s whitetails are slightly larger than Central America’s whitetails of approximately the same size. Facial patterns shown in most of the SCI Record Book’s photos of South American whitetails (all are from Venezuela) are similar to those of Coues deer, with a major exception. A deer that California publisher Ellen Enzler-Herring killed in Venezuela in 1985 had very little white on its face, and instead had a dark mask that extended from its forehead to its nose. The few photographs I have seen of live South American whitetails show a large amount of white on the throats of these deer, many of them with the white areas continuing unbroken from the rump well up onto their sides and all the way to the jaw on some deer. I have been told this feature is most conspicuous with the apurensis subspecies.


The most distinguishing characteristic of most South American whitetails, though, is the absence of metatarsal glands. In its place (but not in the same place as the metatarals on North American whitetails) hunters will find a glandless tuft of hair. As with their northern cousins, South American whitetails do have orbital, tarsal and interdigital glands.


South America’s whitetails are confined to the northern part of the continent – Colombia, Venezuela, Guiana, Surinam, French Guyana, northern Brazil, Ecuador, and northern and coastal Peru – with 15 degrees 15 minutes south latitude generally reported as being the approximate southernmost point of their range. They are found in open grasslands, savannas and open forests from twelve thousand feet (some say fifteen thousand feet) elevation down to sea level, preferring arid conditions over rain forests. Interestingly, despite this much reported preference, the Wildlife Management Institute reports that “a major part of the (South American) whitetail’s range is covered by broad-leafed evergreen and semideciduous forests, including tropical rain forests and humid montane forests.“ Most photographs I have seen of live South American whitetails have shown them with cattle in open grasslands or along sparsely vegetated (overgrazed?) riparian areas. Densities for South America’s white-tailed deer have been reported as ranging from as few as one deer per 1,250 acres (fifty hectares) to as many as one deer per five acres (two hectares) across their range. This works out to 0.512 to 128 white-tailed deer per square mile, compared to the six to seventy-five whitetails per square mile the U.S. Soil Conservation Service reported in the USA in 1991.


The northern portion of South America is one of the world’s most rapidly developing areas, with approximately one hundred million people inhabiting the countries that now are home for white-tailed deer. That represents an average increase of one million people a year since the 1930s. By 2050, some say this region’s population could hit two hundred million! Whitetails often thrive in habitats that man has altered, so South America’s whitetail numbers could very well boom as its human population grows, given adequate protection from year-around hunting. However, many articles have reported that the continent’s whitetails are subjected to very heavy poaching, even though all countries with white-tailed deer have enacted game laws, more or less.


British deer expert G. Kenneth Whitehead, who obviously is a "splitter," listed eight subspecies of whitetails in South America in his Hunting and Stalking Deer Throughout the World. Other authorities sometimes list only seven. The eight recognized by Whitehead can be divided into two groups with five races considered “tropical” South American whitetails“ and three as “High Andes” or “Temperate Zone” South American whitetails. Sorting deer by the type of region they inhabit probably is not acceptable to some scientists, but lumping seven races into just two groups as done below makes sense for hunters, and this probably will be what organizations that maintain hunting records will do when hunters submit more trophies from that continent for entry in their record books.


Because few international big game hunters go to South America to hunt deer (the few who do usually hunt South America's various indigenous brocket deer and the introduced European red deer, axis deer and fallow deer on Argentina’s game ranches, and not whitetails), Safari Club International receives few South American whitetail entries, and lumps all records of whitetails in South America into a single category, "South American White-tailed Deer." The Boone and Crockett Club does not recognize white-tailed deer entries from South America.


The eight subspecies of South American whitetails are:


Tropical South American whitetails


COMMON NAME? whitetail (Odocoilus virginianus cariacou) – Colombia, Ecuador. Reddish year-around. (SIZE, ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


COMMON NAME? whitetail (O.v. gymnotis) – Savannas of Venezuela, Surinam, Guiana, Brazil. Brown in winter, reddish in summer. Heaviest reported weight, 144 pounds (65 kg.). (ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


Tropical whitetail (O.v. tropicalis) – West of the Andes in southern Ecuador and Colombia. Reddish brown year-around. These small deer (HOW SMALL?) reportedly closely resemble the whitetails found in Panama. (ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


Margarita Island whitetail (O.v. margaritae) – Margarita Island off coast of Venezuela. Reddish in color year-around. (SIZE? ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


Curacao Island whitetail (O.v. curassavicus) – Curacao Island off Venezuela. Reddish in color year-around. Protected by the Venezuelan government since the 1930s. Only about a hundred animals were reported to exist in 1984. (SIZE? ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


COMMON NAME? whitetail (O.v. apurensis) – Eastern Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador. The winter coat is reddish with two distinct color zones (most other whitetails have three) and its facial markings are not distinct. It is one of the smallest of the continent’s whitetails. (HOW SMALL?) Some scientists lump this race with gymnotis, and recognize just seven subspecies of South American white-tailed deer. (ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


High Andes or Temperate Zone South American whitetails


COMMON NAME? whitetail (O.v. goudotii) – Flood plains of the Andes of Colombia to Sierra de Merida in western Venezuela. Reportedly, some specimens of this race have a dark circle below and in front of their eyes, apparently the only whitetails with such features. Winter coats are gray-blonde to yellowish-gray. (SIZE/ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)


Peruvian whitetail (O.v. peruvianus) – Slopes of Andes in Peru and Bolivia. Winter coats reportedly are gray-blonde to yellowish-gray. Freelance hunting writer Stuart Williams of Seattle, Washington, hunted these deer at elevations of 14,000-17,000 feet in August1994. Williams said that although he saw many bucks, none had antlers that would compare with those displayed in the estancia’s lodge, so he returned without shooting a deer. However, he photographed a buck and a doe that had been shot by ranch workers for food and estimated these young animals to weigh 90-100 pounds. If these two young deer had the distinctive white bibs that are reported on many South American whitetails, it did not catch his attention. He remembered their color as being “reddish gray.” Williams said the antlers from the better bucks on display at the lodge closely resembled those of Texas Hill Country whitetails in size, mass and conformation, with several having four tines and an eyeguard on each side. He was told there was no set antler growing season, and that bucks in velvet might be encountered in any month. He was told that April and May were the best months for finding more bucks with hard antlers. Hunting was done from horseback, using mixed-breeed dogs. The horsemen would ride up grassy ridges and the dogs would run up the canyons, chasing deer out of the tree-lined bottoms. If he had decided to shoot one of the 40-50 bucks he saw there, he said shots would have been across canyons at distances up to 350 yards or so. Pumas (mountain lions) were abundant even in the highest elevations, according to ranch workers, but he did not see any cats during his week there. Hunting on the ranch in1994 cost $250 U.S. per day, and there was no limit or trophy fee on deer. Because of Peru’s restrictive gun laws, he carried the rancher’s rifle.


COMMON NAME? whitetail (O.v. ustus) – Andes of Ecuador and southern Colombia. Winter coats are gray-blonde to yellowish-gray. (SIZE/ANTLER DESCRIPTION?)

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I don't think there are any Coues in South America. I don't know specifically which subspecies is there, but I have attached a map showing the subspecies in Mexico. The range labelled as Number 3 is the range of the Coues.







White-Tailed Deer are native to Mexico, Central and South America and live alongside brocket deer. Brocket deer tend to favor seasonal evergreen forest, cloud forest, and rain forest. White-Tailed deer prefer tropical seasonal deciduous and mixed forest as well as tropical savanna and wet savanna.


The white-tailed deer of Central and South America are small, with very small antlers and live in Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Surinam, and French Guiana...possibly to NE Brazil. The Venezuela deer have the largest antlers and possibly the longest tail length relative to body.

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