In 1988, the General Assembly made the white-tailed deer Ohio’s state mammal. The white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, has been extremely important in Ohio’s history. White-tailed deer have been in Ohio since the end of the last Ice Age. Ohio’s native people used the deer’s meat for food, the hide for clothing and the bones and antlers for tools. Indians also used the hides, antlers and bones for ceremonial purposes. Archaeologists have found deer antlers sheathed in copper at a prehistoric site, and Hopewell craftspeople made shaman characters wearing deer antlers.
Europeans considered deer hide to be very valuable. They used deerskins in barter and trade with the Indians and with other Europeans. The slang term “buck,” referring to a dollar, dates to this time when deerskins (commonly called buckskins) were used to trade and barter for supplies. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates there are 600,000 white-tailed deer in Ohio.