View Full Version : Differences between southwest and midwest

February 28, 2007, 01:50 AM
Just move to Sierra Vista Arizona from South Dakota and I was suprised and the differences in the same types of animals from one part of the country to the next. I always knew that up north we had bigger deer and various other critters, but I always thought it wasn't that big of a difference.

After seeing southern coyotes, antelope and mule deer I was astonished at just how small they were compared to their northern breathern. I mean I mistook a coyote for a odd colored fox at first glance until I gave him a second once over (he had a real bushy tail which threw me off), then I saw more yotes and they were all the same size as a big nothern fox, but much more scrawny looking. Next, I saw several herds of antelope that looked like young yearling northern antelope. The coupe de grace came when I saw a couple mulies that were about the same size as a small northern whitetail.

Now I know why you southern folks shoot deer with a 22-250 and call anything over a .270 over kill. Up north, if you tried shooting a large mulie or whitetail with a .22 caliber it would just walk off and be cursing the nasty mosquito that just bit it :D . .243 is the bare minimum (legally and ethically) in SD, but I seriously think that it will be the perfect round for down here in the southwest. (based on size of the animals).

Just my 2 cents from a northern person transplated down south.

Thoughts anybody.

Art Eatman
February 28, 2007, 08:39 AM
Yeah, most all species increase in size as you travel northward. Not just coyotes and deer but such as cougars, bears and wolves, as well.

There is also an equivalency to do with altitude, although I've heard less about this and know less. As I understand it, critters who live at higher elevations tend to be larger than at lower elevations. Well, mammals, anyway. Mountain stream trout, down south, would be called "bait". :)


February 28, 2007, 09:26 AM
I have read many articles on this subject. It seems to be a general recognition that the farther away from the equator, on any given continent, you get larger body size mammals.

There are obvious factors besides this involved. Food, shelter, population, disease, nutrition, etc.

Smokey Joe
February 28, 2007, 10:17 AM
Mammals, anyway. It has to do with heat loss. And it's a generality--there will always be exceptions. But biologists will point out that the larger an animal is, the less surface are it has for its volume. The reverse is also true.

So, in a cold climate, where heat loss is a problem, larger body size (and therefore less surface area) is a survival advantage. In a very warm climate, where heat loss is not a problem--rather, the reverse, smaller body size and more body surface, is an advantage. Large northern whitetails vs. small southern whitetails is an excellent example. The southern extreme is the Key Deer of Florida, which live in a tropical climate, and run about 50#--all these are the same species, Odocoileus virginianus.

The opposite is true, however, of the mammals' extremities. The best example is hares' ears: The arctic hare (cold climate; lotsa heat loss, want small surface area relative to volume) has ears so small it almost doesn't look like a hare. The desert hare of the American southwest, however (hot climate; too much heat, want large surface area relative to volume) has ears almost like wings, which it can swivel away from the sun as needed, or spread out to take advantage of a cooling breeze.

There are other forces in play with non-mammals. Example: Longer southern growing season and less winter starvation leads to what is a "hunge" northern LM bass being regarded as a runt LM bass in the Deep South. Again, same species.

February 28, 2007, 10:18 AM
I have only been as far SW in your area as Tucson but isn't were your at about the same?

I think food supply plays a large part. Those southern deserts are a harsh environment. This is just my observation from living at the edge of the San Bernardino Mtns., very near to the deserts, as a youngster and young man. I ran all over that part of the west. Myself and most of the friends I had would head for the outdoors and not toward the populated areas. It was still not so discovered by the weekender's and ATVer's like now.

The Mule deer and coyotes in the foothills and Mtns. were as ( or seemed to me) as large what we have here in Idaho. I spent lots of time in the Mojave Desert, upper with a 4000 ft. elevation to the lower some below sea level and the coyotes were scrawny in comparison.
But then the foothills of that area, west of the deserts, had several times the amount of cottontails and ground squirrels than here. I was surprised when I moved backto Idaho the lack of small game compared to the foothills there.

I do wonder about the size of he animals in the mountain areas of New Mexico, or northern AZ.

I do think about the largest coyote I ever saw was next to the Colorado river north of Yuma. We were floating from Blythe to Yuma and even the local ranger knew of him and kinda thought he was a hybrid. Huge coyote.

I believe trout size has a lot to do with water temp. and Stream size. Caught several pound trout in Big Bear Lake, And some dandys are in the Colorado River below Hoover dam where the water is cold.