Sika Deer of Southaven County Park
Sika deer are actually more closely related to the elk than they are to white tailed deer; thus, their appearance, traits, and general behavior differ somewhat. They are smaller than whitetails, with adult males, called stags, typically weighing about 90 pounds and adult females, or hinds, weighing roughly 70 pounds. Coat color ranges from chestnut brown during winter to reddish-olive during summer. Sikas keep their white spots as adults, which are most visible during the summer months, and tend to have proportionally shorter snouts and smaller ears. Unlike white tailed deer that raise their tails like a flag when alarmed, they have a white rump patch that flares outwards.
Sikas are also one of the most vocal members of the deer family with at least five distinct calls. During the fall and early winter breeding season, stags can be heard bugling, best described as a multi-pitched, extended wail. Hinds use soft bleats and whistles to communicate with other females and offspring, and their alarm call is a short, high-pitched bark.
Like whitetails, only the males have antlers; however, they are more narrow and erect and resemble miniature elk antlers in form. Stags rarely have more than three points per antler; typically spikes as yearlings, which develop into four or five points as two year olds, and finally six points at three years. Trophy-class antlers are about 13 to 15 inches in length and are shed between February and April of each year.
While sika deer generally reach sexual maturity at about 16 months and breed during their second year, research has shown that approximately 25 percent of the hinds actually bred during their first year of life. The season begins around late September, and the gestation period lasts approximately 30 weeks, with most calves born in May. However evidence based on age data suggests that the breeding season may actually span significantly more than several months in length. And unlike white tailed deer that commonly give birth to twins or even triplets, hinds almost always give birth to a single calve.
Southaven County Park is also an excellent place to photograph Ducks, Geese, and Swans.