Mule deer normally feed in the early morning
before and just after sunrise or in late afternoon and evening,
just before and after sundown. They spend their midday bedded
down in cool, secluded places that offer them good observational
advantages & quick escape routes. During the summer season,
bucks will retire as soon as the sun shines and head into
the dense shade of of the trees or bushes to bed down for
the day. They will always choose areas offering them complete
observational advantage as well as several quick escape routes.
In general, the more mature bucks tend to prefer rocky ridges
for their bedding grounds where they appear to feel more secure
from the approach of danger. Does and fawns are more likely
to bed down in open areas.
Mule Deer grow larger in average than Whitetails.
Mature bucks can weigh from 150-400+ lbs and be as tall as
3 feet at their shoulders. Does can weigh from 140-200 lbs.
They average 4 - 4.5 feet in length.
During the Fall season, necks of rutting bucks
swell. The mating or Rutt, begins in late October with the
dominant bucks breeding with more than one doe. Rutting bucks
will travel among the doe groups tending to and breeding with
the does in estrus. Does will give birth in June to one or
two reddish-brown, white-spotted fawns.
The summer forage for Mule Deer is chiefly herbaceous
plants. They may also consume blackberry, huckleberry and
thimbleberry if available in the area. During winter their
diet will include twigs of the Douglas fir, cedar, yew, aspen,
willow, dogwood, juniper, and sage. Mule Deer will also eat
acorns, strawberries, raspberries and apples when available.
Mule deer primarily browse for their food. The majority of
their diet is comprised of weeds and the leaves/twigs of brush.
Mule deer have a small rumen and therefor must forage on high
quality foods. Frequently the high quality foods are those
that are green and growing. Mule deer will consume grass especially
when the grass is green and actively growing. Like cows and
other animals with a 4-chambered stomach, deer process food
by chewing cud (ruminating). This reprocessing of food, along
with beneficial bacteria in the stomach, allows the deer to
digest fibrous leaves and twigs. Mule Deer in mountainous
areas migrate seasonally from higher summer elevations to
snow-free lower winter ranges.
Mule deer have a unique fast bound with a stiff-legged
gait, the tail held down, unlike their cousins the Whitetail
which "flag" their tails upward. This bounding gait
allows the deer to travel quickly when feeling the presence