The flashing of a white, flag-like tail along the edge of a field and into the woods signals the presence of the most popular game animal in the South.Hunting the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginiana) is a form of recreation that is steeped in tradition and tremendously popular.There is also considerable interest in the aesthetic, economic and educational values of deer as well as the recreational opportunities they provide.
In pre-colonial times, the extensive mature forests of the South did not provide optimum habitat diversity necessary to maintain high density deer populations.
Deer were locally abundant, in areas where lightning fires and other factors had opened up the dense forest canopy.
Natural enemies of deer, such as the cougar and timber wolf, also played a significant part in regulating deer numbers and in keeping them in relative balance with their habitat.
As colonial settlement, extensive agricultural production (cotton), and market hunting grew, these factors severely limited deer populations and herds began to decline drastically.
By the early 1900s, deer numbers had reached a low point and the public finally became more concerned about conservation.