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Mule Deer Facts

Author: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Source: wildlife.utah.gov/


Mule Deer Information

The mule deer gets its name from the size of itsmule-like ears. It is the smallest member of the deer familyin Utah (the other two members being the elk and themoose). The Rocky Mountain mule deer (O.h.hemionus) isthe largest of the mule deer, and the only subspecies found inUtah. Rocky Mountain mule deer stand three to three and ahalf feet tall at the shoulder, with bucks (males) usuallyweighing 125 to 250 pounds, though some may weigh asmuch as 400 pounds. Does (females) usually weigh be-tween 100 and 150 pounds. During the winter, mule deerhave a heavy, dark grey coat of long guard hairs covering adense underfur. This is shed in the spring for a lighterreddish-tan coat. Fawns are born with a light brown coatcovered with numerous white spots. By the time the fawnsare approximately three months old, the spots will havedisappeared.The mule deer has a white rump patch and a narrowblack-tipped tail. It holds its tail down when it runs, unlike itscousin the white-tailed deer, which raises its bushy white taillike a flag.Antlers, found only on bucks, begin growing in latewinter and will reach full growth by late summer. Develop-ing antlers are covered with a skin-like “velvet” whichsupplies blood and nutrients to the developing bone. Thevelvet is shed by early fall and the antlers harden. Theantlers have a main beam which splits or forks into twobranches with each branch or tine (point) being approxi-mately the same length. Typical four point antlers havesecondary forks that arise from these branches. Whileantler points cannot be used to determine the age of a deer,with proper nutrition, older deer generally have larger antlerswith more points than do younger deer. Antlers are shedyearly, usually by late December