Mule Deer

Mule Deer are the only native deer species in Nevada. They can be identified by their long, mule-like ears. Male Mule Deer sport antlers during the breeding season, which occurs from late November through the middle of December. Mule Deer fur coloration varies across their range. They can be shades of dark brown, ash gray, brown, and even reddish in color. They sport a white patch on their throats as well.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Odocoileus hemionus
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
10-12 Years
SIZE
50-85 ” | 125-330 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
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

Threats

  • 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 lack of scent help protect them from predators.

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.