The population of White-tailed deer on Anticosti Island is the result of an unprecedented biological experiment that took place in 1895. Mr. Henri Menier, a gentleman from France, released 220 White-tailed deer on the island that had been captured live from mainland Quebec. The deer thrived and from this original count the herd now numbers over 125,000 head.
The deer of Anticosti are the most north-eastern White-tailed deer of North America. Typical of this species, the deer have readily adapted and evolved with the Anticosti’s coastal environment. Their introduction to the island and subsequent population growth has modified the ecosystem, plant life and fauna of Anticosti. Once known for its abundant black bear populations and hunted for centuries by the local natives from the north shore of Quebec, the black bear is now extinct on the island. Anticosti is completely void of any predators. The overgrazing of the ever increasing deer population wiped out the rich wild berry crop that the bears depended on to fatten up before the long winter months. The last black bear was sighted on the island in 1998. Basically, the main population control on Anticosti’s deer herd is the Quebec winter.
The deer have also had a detrimental effect on the indigenous balsam fir trees and other plant life originally found on the island. Primarily used as a winter food source, balsam fir management measures have been undertaken by the Quebec government to help maintain and increase this evergreen’s presence on the island.
Both Boone and Crockett and Safari Club International record book societies have been lobbied to list Anticosti deer as a distinct sub-species. Recently, Safari Club International agreed to this request and now has a listing for Anticosti White-tailed deer as a distinct sub-species. During the 2008 hunting season, we harvested the new number 1 S.C.I. record book buck which scored 146 5/8.
A mature Anticosti buck weighs between 165 lbs to over 200 lbs on hoof. The standard buck’s antler consists of 8 typical points with an antler width between 16 and 18 inches. We harvest many deer that exceed these averages every year. As with any species of deer that have evolved in very different environments, hunters will notice slight differences in the basic morphology and look of the Anticosti White-tailed deer.