Mule Deer

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) are found across the state of Nevada. They are a welcome sight to wildlife viewers and hunters alike. The species can be found throughout Nevada from the Mojave Desert to sub-alpine mountain tops to coniferous forests in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Their populations are most often associated with sagebrush steppe, aspen, and mountain shrub communities. Learn more how to conserve mule deer.
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Odocoileus hemionus
10-12 Years
50-85” | 125-330lbs
  • Priority Species
Least Concern
Big Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Mule Deer move between different habitat types but seem to prefer arid, open areas and rocky hillsides.

  • Cold desert shrubland and sagebrush
  • Grasslands
  • Upland Forests


  • Drought
  • Habitat Degradation
  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

Mule Deer are herbivores, relying on plant material to survive. Their diet varies throughout the year and is very seasonal. Mule Deer are sagebrush obligates and they rely on sagebrush during the winter months when there is not a lot of other forage available. Mule Deer bucks (male deer) grow antlers each year that fall off after the “rut,” or mating season. During this time, males will fight for the right to mate with female deer. They lock antlers and will fight until exhaustion. Mule Deer typically have two fawns during the early summer. Fawns are born spotted and scentless. Does (female deer) will leave their young for hours at a time so that they can forage. The fawns’ spotted fur helps in camouflage and the lack of scent help protect them from predators.

Populations of Mule Deer in Nevada have been declining for the last couple of decades. Loss of quality habitat from extreme drought, invasive grasses, wildfires, and overpopulation of wild horses and burros have contributed to this decline. NDOW initiated the Mule Deer Enhancement Program (MDEP) to address these issues and the dropping deer population. MDEP is a collaborative endeavor bringing together non-governmental organizations, land management agencies, private landowners, and industry partners with the goal of putting more Mule Deer on the landscape. Learn more about how NDOW works to conserve mule deer

Learn More:

Sagebrush Habitat Planning_Handout

Mule Deer Hunting Quotas

Western Migrations

Migration Corridors of Mule Deer in the Ruby Mountains

Migration Corridors of Mule Deer in the Pequop Mountains




Fun Facts

Mule Deer are good swimmers, though they rarely use water as a means of escaping predators. Cast off antlers provide an important source of calcium and other minerals to wildlife such as mice, porcupines, coyotes, bison, elk, and deer, all of which chew on the tips and softer portions throughout the year.