The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) represents one of the most successful and widely distributed large mammal species within North America, yet very little nucleotide sequence information is available. We utilized massively parallel pyrosequencing of a reduced representation library (RRL) and a random shotgun library (RSL) to generate a complete mitochondrial genome sequence and identify a large number of putative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) distributed throughout the white-tailed deer nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. A SNP validation study designed to test specific classes of putative SNPs provides evidence for as many as 10,476 genome-wide SNPs in the current dataset. Based on cytogenetic evidence for homology between cow (Bos taurus) and white-tailed deer chromosomes, we demonstrate that a divergent genome may be used for estimating the relative distribution and density of de novo sequence contigs as well as putative SNPs for species without draft genome assemblies. Our approach demonstrates that bioinformatic tools developed for model or agriculturally important species may be leveraged to support next-generation research programs for species of biological, ecological and evolutionary importance. We also provide a functional annotation analysis for the de novo sequence contigs assembled from white-tailed deer pyrosequencing reads, a mitochondrial phylogeny involving 13,722 nucleotide positions for 10 unique species of Cervidae, and a median joining haplotype network as a putative representation of mitochondrial evolution in O. virginianus. The results of this study are expected to provide a detailed template enabling genome-wide sequence-based studies of threatened, endangered or conservationally important non-model organisms.