Mule Deer

Stot if you got it!

Mule deer are named for their large ears. They live in varied habitats throughout Yellowstone: brushy areas, grasslands, and coniferous forests.

Wolves sometimes prey on mule deer, especially fawns, although they usually prefer larger, slower elk. Mule deer often use a distinctive bounding leap called stotting (or pronking) which allows them to cover uneven terrain efficiently and may signal their health (don't bother chasing me, Big Bad Wolf!). This makes them challenging prey to catch. Mule deer also have sharp hooves and pointy antlers which smart wolves avoid.

Mule deer live in small family groups rather than large herds. In the fall, the does gather around dominant bucks for the rut (mating season). Like other ungulates, the males spar, posture, and try to drive away other bucks. Of course, they would rather win by looking strong and awesome rather than risk injury fighting. But evenly matched mule deer bucks will clash, locking antlers and shoving vigorously to prove who is the boss. Such battles are exhausting and can cause injuries, some fatal. The winner gets the does and passes his genes to a new generation.

In the spring and early summer, mule deer does usually give birth to two fawns. Fawns start out hiding motionless, well camouflaged and scentless. Once they are mobile, fawns stay close to their mothers and can also run fast. Fawns are preyed on by wolves, coyotes, black and grizzly bears, cougars, and golden eagles.

Mule deer are less dangerous than elk to hunt but they are harder to catch.

Quick Facts

Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus)

Mule deer are common in Yellowstone in the summer. Males grow and shed their antlers each year. Mule deer may sometimes gather in small groups but do not form large herds like elk.

SIZE: Bucks typicialy weigh about 92 kg (203 lb) and does about 68 kg (150 lb).

TOP SPEED: 72 kph (45 mph) and can change their running direction with a single bound.

DIET: Herbivores (eat plants): shrubs, forbs, grasses, conifers

Mule Deer in WolfQuest

Mule deer are found throughout the game in most habitats.

Mule deer provide prey for quick or clever wolves.

Watch out for sharp hooves and male antlers!

During the autumn rut, mule deer bucks may be seen battling.

Newborns lay hidden in spring and early summer and can provide a light snack for a lucky wolf. Keep an eye out for protective mothers.