For as long as hunters have been pursuing the great white-tailed deer for food or trophy, they have been comparing notes. Multiple generations of hunters, wildlife managers and deer researchers have been amassing data sets and knowledge about the commonalities among whitetails.

Over the years, a tremendous amount of information has been accumulated about whitetails related to population statistics and dynamics, behavior, feeding habits, breeding activities, rearing young and best practices of quality deer management.

They have also collected a host of favored successful tactics for hunters to harvest freezer meat and wall antlers. Keen whitetail hunters want to know as much of this kind of stuff as possible. Here are 25 tidbits of data about white-tailed deer and related hunting tactics.

1. Strength in numbers. Current population estimates indicate that Mississippi's deer herd numbers between 1.5 and 2.0 million animals. Close neighbor Alabama hosts about the same number, perhaps slightly more, and Texas leads the pack with about 5 million deer.

2. Multiple whitetail brands. Although we take for granted that the animal we chase from hill to dell every hunting season is just a plain old white-tailed deer, animal taxonomists have now identified that there are 30 subspecies of deer in the world. I suppose it is best for us just trying to trick one species in Mississippi.

It was rumored a few years ago that some captive mule deer escaped a pen in the Lexington area, and have now interbred with native whitetails. If this doesn't seem too fantastic to believe, one actually showed up not long ago to be scored for the MRP, and was rejected.

3. Old-age deer. "Quality deer management principles recommend to let bucks get a little age on them before taking the shot," says Brian Murphy, QDMA executive director.

Therefore, aging deer is more important than trying to field judge an antler rack. QDMA guidelines suggest allowing bucks to get at least 5-plus years old before pulling the trigger. Ironically it is now estimated that whitetails can live to be 11-12 years old. For bucks, though, it is thought that their full antler potential would have been lost long before this elder age.

4. Weighty whitetail matters. Across America, the live weights of white-tailed deer can vary from as little as 100 pounds in southern zones to over 300 pounds up north.

"On our DMAP hunting property on the Big Black River in Holmes County, our doe weights are running about 80 to 120, while bucks go from 150 to 190 pounds. I don't think we've ever taken a deer that tipped the scales over 200," says Andy Dulaney of Spring Lake Farms.

Every season brings reports of Mississippi deer weighing well over the 200-pound mark.

5. The eyes have it. Most deer hunters would probably agree that the nose of a white-tailed deer is its keenest defense. Of course, a deer's ability to hear would have to factor high into this equation as well.

However, the eyes of a deer are also very acute at picking up movements. In fact their range of vision includes 300 degrees of sighting ability. That leaves hunters a sneak-up margin of only 60 degrees. Good luck with that.

Also, don't try to move on a deer in low morning or evening light as their night vision is also very acute.

6. Winner by a nose. We were maybe right the first time. A deer's nose is roughly 1,000 times more sensitive than that of a human. So when deer hunting articles suggest that a hunter not hang around frying bacon and sausage, or the gas station before the hunt, this may be why.

Just a slight puff of scent not native to a deer's environment can clue them in that something is present that doesn't belong. This type of smelling ability might also dictate why deer-scent companies direct hunters to go easy on plying their scents. Just a little dab will do it.

Also, clean up your act both body and clothing. Wear scent-control garments if you're really paranoid about human scent contamination. Use scent control sprays, too.

7. Now listen up. Each deer's ear can rotate up to 180 degrees totally independent of each other. Whitetails recognize and know every natural sound in their habitat. Likewise, they immediately recognize any unnatural sound.

Test this out yourself in the woods sometime on a doe or spike you don't intend to shoot. Rap the barrel of your gun on a metal tree stand brace, rattle your keys or just let out a cat whistle. A deer will jerk up at such noises. If they pick up on those sounds, then think twice about slamming the truck door when you get out or having the volume of your walkie-talkie radio too high. The deer you spook might just have been a record-class buck.

8. Antler racks of diminishing returns. Deer researchers have determined that optimal biological deer antler development is attained by the age of 5½ to 6½ years. This evidence comes from a host of studies of whitetails held in penned captivity at several university research facilities across the country.

This is further substantiation that hunters need to learn how to more accurately age deer in the field in order to optimize their hunting property harvest potential. Taking too many young bucks out of the herd is just as bad as taking too few old ones. A buck judged to exceed the 6- to 7-year-old mark ought to be considered the new class of cull bucks.

9. Deer chow down. Whitetails feed quickly with a biologic system similar to cows. They eat their fill when time permits, then retreat to a safe area to regurgitate and "chew their cud." Deer will hold up during inclement weather, but have to eventually eat and drink. Deer hunters know that green food plots attract a lot of deer to feed, but often comment that bucks don't stand around grazing for long. Hunters using stands over wildlife food plots need to stay alert to bucks coming into the plots, make quick assessments and quicker shots.

10. Lean cuisine. In times when natural browse is limited or lean such as during a drought, deer will quite often resort to predation on croplands, even having to eat unsatisfactory foods like cotton plants or other low value food resources. These kinds of conditions are a good argument for planting supplemental wildlife food plots to add to the plate of what Mother Nature might provide. High-protein plant choices are best, including soybeans, oats, wheat and leafy greens like rape.

11. Home on the range. Most deer spend their entire lives in an area from ½ square mile to 1½ square miles. Does will consistently give birth in the same area year after year.

The only factors that would push deer off a chosen home range would be a lack of food, water, shelter and safety. Given this general size of a home range, a good target number of acres for a hunting club is from 320 to 960 knowing that a square mile is 640 acres. If land managers take care of the essential elements that deer require, then all else being equal most of that localized deer herd will remain on that property, though they may range off and on from time to time.

12. Wandering bucks. Recent research studies of deer movements indicates that bucks now frequenting your hunting area were most likely not born there. Likewise the bucks birthed on your property are highly likely not to stay there, but will move away to a new location. Again, hunters understanding this should work to co-op with neighbors on joint quality deer management efforts.

13. Don't cool off a hotspot. Deer hunters should refrain from encroaching too close to a buck's signpost hotspots. Back off rub lines or multiple scrapes to get a better view of bucks slinking around the edges or slipping through dense cover to reach their marking zones. Always play to the wind in your favor, and remain still in the stand.

14. Scan the food court. It is a given that during the rut bucks will cruise the far reaches of their habitat range in search of a doe in heat. So it is natural that places where does gather will be ideal spots to stake out in wait for bucks to show up.

Top on the list of places to find does yarded up are prime food resource areas. This might be a green rye grass food plot, an acorn flat covered in nuts or a honeysuckle thicket. Set up a stand or blind in favored wind where all the likely approaches can be glassed. Patience always prevails as a buck will show up sooner or later. If food spots change, change with them.

15. Hunt the pinch points. Set up a stand on active "pinch points" or squeeze joints around your hunting property. Some hunters identify these as funnels, but look for the very narrow aisles between habitat types such as an old logging road gap through an old fence.

A field road between a line of cedars is a likely spot. Also scout along deer creek ravines looking for crossing lanes worn in the mud. These pinch areas will naturally channel deer from one section of the property to another. These are great spots to hang a lock-on tree stand or climber that can be moved quickly.

16. Deer hunter blow hard. You have that deer call hanging around your neck. Now use it.

"Most bucks will stop at the sound of a grunt or bleat call. They may halt their strides just long enough for a quick rack evaluation or more precise crosshair placement," said Lawrence Taylor of Knight and Hale Calls. "If a buck won't offer a classic broadside shot, a doe bleat call might divert its attention causing it to move for a more suitable shot in the vitals."

Deer calls have many uses only if hunters learn how and when to use them effectively.

17. Decoy deploy. More and more hunters are using a variety of full-bodied deer decoys to add an extra dimension to the hunt. Several of the decoys on the market can be configured either as a doe or a buck. Some hunters use both trying to intimidate the dominant buck in the area.

Hunters are also applying deer scents to the decoys and adding white wind flag tails for realism. Set the scented decoy up where deer can approach it from the downwind side. Sometimes bucks come to a decoy in a fury, so be alert.

18. Emphasis on weather. Without a doubt, weather trends can play a major factor on deer hunting success. Hunting hard before and after a storm front moves through is a good tactic, but sitting out in a stand in a gale wind is probably a waste of time. Deer will hold up tight during the worst weather, but be ready to hunt when the storm breaks.

Cold fronts seem to stimulate deer movements, but in Mississippi our deer tend to lock down when temperatures hover around freezing. This is the time to hunt midday as it warms.

19. Isolated islands. Don't forsake that little hidden patch of deer cover right out there in plain sight. Islands of habitat like fence corner thickets, deep grown-up drainage ditches, a farm pond in the middle of a field, an old cattle feed lot or an abandoned logging platform should be approached with caution and hunted carefully.

Keep a keen eye open for likely exit routes. It may require more than one hunter to cover an island hideout, but be mindful of safe shooting zones involving multiple hunters.

20. Stare 'em down. This may sound a tad ridiculous, but hunters should never look a deer directly in the eyes within 50 yards. Though whitetails cannot see color, they can easily see hues of white and grey. A shining white face could be easily picked out from woodland shadows. Hunters, especially close-range bowhunters, should concentrate on watching the deer's body and not the eyes.

21. Deer do look up. Deer behavior has now been long modified since the prevailing use of tree stands posting hunters off ground level. Deer are now more tuned into looking up than ever before. What used to be the standard height of a tree stand seat at about 6 feet high has now gradually increased to an average height of 16 feet.

Both bow and gun hunters need to remember that extra-high stands will change the aiming points for arrows or bullets, so practice accordingly.

22. Time on task. In Mississippi on average, it takes an archery hunter 21 man-days of hunting to take a deer. A man-day is defined as one hunter spending an entire day in the field. For a perspective on this, know that there are roughly 49,500 bowhunters in this state. They harvest on average about 42,800 deer a year for an 86.5 percent success rate. Mississippi has 30 deer for every bow hunter, but that does not make them easy to take.

23. Beat the deer duck. It is common to hear bowhunters talk about missing a shot when the deer jumped down or ducked at the sound of the bow string letting go. The trick to cover the whole range of target possibilities is to aim for the lower third of a deer's vitals. Then at the release, the arrow should strike the kill zone even if the deer ducks low.

24. Shoot the moon. Plenty of hunters use a full moon as an excuse to blame for poor or slow hunting. However, a recent study from Canada shows there is absolutely no connection between deer movement behavior and moon phases. This was a long-term study of electronic monitored deer that seems to have plenty of validity.

But just in case you are still paranoid about the influence of the moon on deer movements, start hunting the midday hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

25. Perpetual rubs and scrapes. Deer are creatures of habit. Quite often they will rub the same old trees and make scrapes in the same spots. Be sure to note these areas for scouting every season. Some of these bucks will haunt these same areas again, so don't discount a rub or scrape that seems to go cold.

New information comes out about white-tailed deer nearly every day. It is an active field of research, observation and reporting. Hunters can benefit greatly by applying this information to their hunting tactics with a better understanding of the quarry.