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Mule Deer

Winter Day in Montana (41)Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Find an Outfitter FWP Hunting Guide More Info

Mule Deer are found in most of the western U.S. and they are found in every area of Montana. These deer are adaptable to a wide range of western habitat from prairie to alpine to semi-desert to desert, with a preference for open or semi-open country. Mule deer live in small family groups of does, yearlings and fawns. Bucks are usually solitary, or sometimes in very small bachelor groups. Mule deer are migratory in mountainous areas, summering as high as 8,000 feet, and retreating to lower elevations in winter to avoid deep snows. Migration distances may be 50 miles or more.

In Montana the rut usually begins the end of October or early in November. Dominance fights between males are less competitive than in other deer species, being largely bluff. Fawns (usually two, sometimes three) are born May-June. Life expectancy is usually 8-12 years in the wild.

Mature mule deer bucks 3 1/2 years old and older vary in body weight dramatically, depending on their habitat to some degree on their genetics. Generally muley bucks can range from about 150 pounds up to well over 300 pounds with muley does being much smaller. Mule deer are rather heavily built, with a thickset body and legs. Their ears are long and wide, resembling those of a mule. The antlers of a mature buck are large and widespread. The summer coat is thin and varies in color from tan to rusty-red. . The face and throat are whitish, with a black patch on the forehead and a black bar around the chin. The tail is white with a black tip, and sometimes the base of the tail is brown. The thick winter coat is brownish-gray.