Human Ecology

, Volume 39, Issue 2, pp 165–178 | Cite as

White-tailed Deer Management Strategies and Domestication Processes

  • Timothy C. MessnerEmail author


Today, people in the U.S. commonly engage in mutual relationships with white-tailed deer (WTD) in manners consistent with those that ultimately resulted in the domestication of animals in the past. Using a wide range of media depicting perspectives of sport hunters, biologists, ecologists, and game managers this paper explores: 1) the influence of anthropogenic environments on WTD behavior, 2) ‘game’ management and the ability to create valued demographics, and 3) the selection for increased antler size in farmed WTD. This study demonstrates that in order to gain a more accurate understanding of domestication, analyses should focus on the evolution of mutualisms between people and animals. Insights gleamed from this analysis also contribute toward our archaeological understanding of prehistoric animal domestication.


Animal domestication White-tailed deer Wildlife management Niche construction Sport hunting Archaeology 



I would like to thank Melinda Zeder, Dolores Piperno and two anonymous readers for their comments on earlier drafts. Thanks also to Kerin Schwartz and R. Muti for their help in making this paper possible.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian NMNHWashingtonUSA

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