Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department / School

Wildlife Management


Food habits of whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the northern Black Hills were studied during fall and winter 1966067 and 1967-68 and also during summer 1967. Summer study was confined to aspen (Populus tremuloides) areas and involved stomach analysis and a pasture study. Fall and winter food habits were determined by stomach analysis only. Associated aspen vegetation was sampled to find a representative site for construction of a 0.7 acre enclosure. Two deer were placed in a utilization section of the enclosure for 18 days during mid-summer. Annual growth was clipped in a control section of the pasture to estimate total forage production. Analysis of 42 fall rumen samples showed the Oregon grape (Mahonia repens) was the most important fall food species. Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) and common juniper (Juniperus communis) were also important. Analysis of 32 winter rumen samples indicated that Oregon grape and common juniper were the most important. Other winter foods of moderate importance were bearberry, grasses, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa), bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa), and lichens (Usnea sp.). Snow depth was the most important factor affecting availability. As snow depth increased common juniper use increased while Oregon grape and bearberry use decreased. Forbs were not important food items during fall and winter. Significant differences were found in understory coverage and composition among aspen stands. Results of summer stomach analysis did not completely agree with pasture results. Important pasture food species were vetchling (Lathyrus ochroleucus), American vetch (Vicia Americana), serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), and bur oak. Most important food species from analysis of nine summer stomachs were vetchling, serviceberry, mushrooms, aster (Aster leavis), and spiraea (Spiraea lucida). Total forage production on a representative aspen site was found to be 2650 pounds per acre green weight or 853.1 pounds per acre air-dried weight.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

White-tailed deer
Black Hills (S.D. and Wyo.)


Includes bibliographical references (pages 42-43)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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