Named for their stocky build and sizable ears, mule deer are easily distinguishable from white-tailed deer by the black tip of their tails. Some other physical features, however, are less reliable and change throughout the year. Depending on the season, a mule deer’s coat color can appear ashen and pale (winter) or more ruddy and chestnut (summer). Antlers are also shed each winter and are fully regrown at the end of summer. By late November, antlers start to serve an important role for the bucks as the rut – their breeding season – begins. During this time, family groups come together and males battle for dominance, using their antler size to help attract a mate.
Mule deer will remain in large concentrations throughout winter, searching out shrubby forage on the snowy, wind-blown plains. Their seasonal movements, especially from fall to spring, are one of the many reasons why American Prairie invests a portion of your donations in wildlife-friendly fencing and fence removal.
Photo by Dennis Lingohr/American Prairie