Pere David’s Deer
(Elephurus davidianus) China. Known in China as “Milu”. Native to the subtropics of China.
Their Chinese and Japanese names are translated as “four unlikes,” because the animal has been described as having “the hoofs of a cow but not a cow, the neck of a camel but not a camel,antlers of a deer but not a deer, the tail of a donkey but not a donkey.”
The Père David’s deer has a long tassel-like tail, broad hooves, elongated snout and branched antlers (males only). Male antlers typically grow upward with 2 to 3 main branches growing up and back over the neck. Hindshafts often exhibit “jags”, or noticeable points off the tines. A very unique feature of Pere David’s antlers is that they may grow two sets in a single year. The summer antlers are the larger set, and are dropped in November, after the June-August rut. The second set, if they appear, are fully grown by January, and are dropped a few weeks later. Adults have summer coats that are reddish brown with a dark dorsal stripe that grows into a woollier and duller gray winter coat that is shed again in summer months. The fawns are woolly and cinnamon colored with spots on their upper sides. The skin around the eyes and the lips are light grey and the neck has a throat mane in males. The legs are long, and the hooves are relatively long and slender – and adaptation to walking on soft, marshy ground. Adults typically weigh 330-440 lbs, with some males reaching 500 lbs. They stand nearly 4 feet at the shoulder.
Prefer marshland habitat and wetlands along rivers. Good swimmers that will spend hours wading in water up to their shoulders. Create wallows in shallow water and mud; prefer area with shade covering. Males can sometimes be observed lifting cool mud onto their backs with their large antlers (see video above). Males gather harems and fight other competing males during the rut. This is done by not only using their antlers, but males will stand and “box” as well. Stags also endure significant weight loss during this period as a result of increased activity and fasting. Rutting stags are very noisy, making loud, rhythmic bellows. Legs sometimes produce a snapping sound as they walk.
Graze on a mixture of grasses and water plants. Although predominantly grazing animals, they supplements their diet with aquatic plants such as rushes during the summer. Will occasionally feed on leaves, but relish acorns.
The rut seasons occurs from May to September, with peaks in August and September in Texas. During this period, males may lose up to 100 lbs of body weight while gathering harems of females. Each stag ruts for approximately 2 weeks. Females have a nine-month gestation period, with one to two fawns being born at a time. Births are most common from March to June. Young are weaned for 10 to 11 months. They reach sexual maturity at 14 months to 2 years of age.
Typically live to 18 years, but are know to live up to 23 years.
Keeping Pere David’s Deer
Require 7 ft fencing to contain; are able to clear 8 ft fence with a downhill run. As exotics, do best in grassy areas with trees, having access to large ponds or streams. Prefer to wallow in water protected by shade. Need trees for summer shade and winter shelter. Considered hardy winter animals with sufficient forage. Best to keep atleast 2 to 3 males with females during rut to insure breeding resulting from competition. Pere David’s deer are generally compatible with other exotics, but best kept separate of red deer and elk – can hybridize with red deer and may cross with elk.
Pere David’s Deer Hunting
Expect to pay anywhere from $5,000 to $9,000 for a trophy Pere David’s deer –> avg. cost is ~ $6500. Check out our ‘Find A Hunt’ section for featured outfitters.
Scoring Your Trophy Pere David’s Deer
SCI Record Book Minimums:
(N. America - Introduced)
|Gold||219 2/8"||162 5/8"|
Current Record(s) Held:
289 & 7/8 - Van C. Bethancourt Jr. (pictured)