White-tailed deer, the smallest members of the North American deer family, are easily the most common big game species found from southern Canada to South America. In the heat of summer they typically inhabit fields and meadows using clumps of broad-leaved and coniferous forests for shade. During the winter they generally keep to forests, preferring coniferous stands that provide shelter from the harsh elements.
Prevalent from California to Florida and Texas to the Dakotas, adult whitetails have reddish-brown coats in summer which fade to a duller grayish-brown during the hunting season, which spans September to January across the country. Only the bucks grow antlers, which bear a number of tines and are scored by measuring the length, width and spread. During the mating season, also called the rut, bucks fight over territory by using their antlers in sparring matches; this is the prime time to shoot a trophy whitetail with either a rifle or bow.