Physical Characteristics Whitetail deer have a main beam and the antler tines grow upward from the one main beam. Each spring, a buck's antlers start to regrow almost immediately after the old antlers are shed. The 2020 Colorado Outdoors Photography Issue is available now. Once a deer herd is infected with CWD, the disease is there to stay. Food sources are several times what deer … Tiny subspecies like the Keys deer or Coues deer aside, whitetails vary widely in average body size across their range, from small-bodied south Texas deer to giant three-hundred pound Saskatchewan bucks. Mule deer densities are much lower so the bucks travel long distances to find does. Whitetails also have a higher birth rate, their does can often breed their first fall at 6 months of age. Because food resources are plentiful and winters manageable, lowland whitetails don’t need to travel long distances to survive. Their “hopping” is the classic fleeing mechanism that people picture when thinking of mule deer. So the blacktail and mule deer are the same species, but the mulie is a subspecies of the blacktail, and they are both close cousins to the whitetail. Mating. Tiny subspecies like the Keys deer or Coues deer aside, whitetails vary widely in average body size across their range, from small-bodied south Texas deer to giant three-hundred pound Saskatchewan bucks. Their antlers are almost always symmetrical. Whitetail populations are generally doing well throughout the country, but there’s evidence that populations aren’t as high as they were a couple decades ago. Theories abound as to why mule deer populations are falling. I prefer to estimate age based solely on body characteristics with respect to location and time of year and then use antler size to “check” my estimate or to break a tie if I can’t decide between two ages. However, until recently, it wasn’t typically where mule deer and whitetail deer chose to roam. Mule deer have “bifurcated” antlers, with tines that fork above the main beam. Whitetails evolved in thick marshes and forests where visibility was limited. Generally, mule deer have larger antlers than whitetail do. While whitetail bucks are constantly on the move at this time, they don’t cover nearly as much ground as mule deer bucks during the rut. While there’s some general similarities, shared behavioral traits, and habitat overlaps between two of America’s most popular big game species, they are very different animals. A mule deer’s home range is vastly larger than the average whitetail. Whitetails are America’s favorite big game animal, and for good reason. During early weeks of life, the fawn sees its mother only at mealtimes for feeding. A doe will usually produce a single fawn the first year she gives birth and then produce twins in following years. Another major difference is how their antlers are configured. Evolution and History They tend not to spook as easy as whitetails. Some believe it is a warning to other deer. On whitetails single tines sprout from a main beam, with the prototypical mature buck having four or five points, including the “eye guard” or brow tine, on each side. CWD is fatal to every deer that contracts it, and unlike diseases like Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD), the effects aren’t temporary. However, the top of a mule deer’s tail is the same color as the sides and back of the pelt, down to a small, dark or black tip on the tail. To make it an effective defense mechanism, the difference between “calm” and “freaked out” has to be as big as possible. In the upper midwest, wolf populations are growing enough that it is believed they are having a significant impact on certain deer herds. SMALLER SET IS 226-6" BC GROSS AND BIGGER SET IS 249-5" BC GROSS~ BOTH WITH 18-0" ESTIMATED INSIDE SPREADS~ SMALLER SET H1'S ARE 5-5" AND 5-3"~ LONGEST TINE IS 11-3"~ MAIN BEAMS ARE 21-5" AND 22-0"~ SET WEIGHS 6.5 LBS~ COUPLE OF TINY TINY SURFACE CHEWS ON RIGHT ANTLER… Because food resources are plentiful and winters manageable, lowland whitetails don’t need to travel long distances to survive. White-tailed bucks' antlers consist of a main beam, from which different tines or points grow upwards. Very interesting and well-written. Whitetail deer have one main beam from which all other tines emerge. How did they get that way? Whitetail deer are the world’s “oldest” deer species; they’ve been around in basically the same form for nearly 4 million years. But opting out of some of these cookies may have an effect on your browsing experience. Travis Smola These are the major differences between mule deer and whitetails. Populations, Distribution, and Habitat Mule deer, on the other hand, are considered the world’s “youngest” deer species, having evolved into their current form as a post-glacial species only 10 thousand years ago. In general, whitetails can be considered a little more paranoid than mule deer when it comes to hunting pressure, but they’ve got a few million more years of evolutionary experience avoiding predators and thousands of years more experience evading human hunters. Conservation and Management Challenges Whitetails can get by just about anywhere. In critical migration corridors, barriers created by energy extraction are obstructing historical mule deer travel routes. the effects aren’t temporary. Antlers are among the most identifiable characteristics of species of the deer family, Cervidae, which comprises caribou, elk, moose, mule deer and white-tailed deer (Figure 1). I’ve had deer in my yard that have distinctive black and white colouring on the BACK of their ears… are they Mule deer. Meanwhile, whitetail antlers only branch out … Hybridization between the two species can occur, but is rare and the offspring usually don’t survive to adulthood. In some places, whitetails and mule deer are found side-by-side, whether that’s in an irrigated alfalfa field in western Kansas or a remote canyon in eastern Washington. They are also bifurcated, forking in two directions as they grow, splitting again to create more tines (points), and so forth. The animals are similar in body size, but … We have more whitetails now, by far, than at the time of European contact. It’s believed there’s around three and half million of the two species combined. As the ice age ended and the glaciers receded northwards, mule deer took advantage of new available habitat, habitat for which they were specially adapted. Whitetail deer were a creature of warmer climates. Large ears, white rump, black-tipped tail and forked antlers identify a mule deer. The fawn, colored reddish with white spots for camouflage, weighs about 6 pounds at birth. The antlers of mule deer are bifurcated rather than branching from a single … When you decide to go bow hunting for high-mountain mule deer, you know you’re in for a physical challenge. Whitetails in northern latitudes grow much larger than their southern cousins. This phenomena is known as. They are mysterious, here-today gone-tomorrow travelers, that prefer tough, remote environments where people don’t like to go, especially the biggest, oldest bucks that never stop to look back before they slip over the ridge. Some of this is intentional on the part of state wildlife managers who are encouraging hunters to harvest more deer, especially does, in areas where whitetail deer densities are extremely high and numbers are above management objectives. As far as smell goes, both species of deer rely on their exceptional sense of smell to avoid being eaten or shot at. Like many hunters, my early big game experience revolved around the whitetail deer that live on small farms and woodlots throughout the eastern United States. In the middle of the day they bed down to rest and chew their cud. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Stotting is unique to mule deer, as no other deer species utilizes this stiff-legged, high bouncing gait. Mule deer breeding activity is highest in the second half of November. Video tips and tactics that will help you develop a plan to safely head out on the ice and fish for everything from bass to walleye. But if you get closer, you sense a predictable pattern. To put it simply, whitetails are just about everywhere and there’s a lot of them. In general, whitetails can be considered a little more paranoid than mule deer when it comes to hunting pressure, but they’ve got a few million more years of evolutionary experience avoiding predators and thousands of years more experience evading human hunters. Age, nutrition and other environmental factors play big roles in a specific deer’s height and weight. While it’s hard to determine size and weight in the field, in Colorado, mule deer tend to be a bit bigger and weigh in a little heavier than white-tailed deer. • Deer include small to large sized animals, while caribou is always medium to large. Big antlers and long-range attraction was unnecessary. Mule deer often summer in high elevation alpine habitat above the treeline where the richest food sources are found, but because snow levels are unmanageable during winter, mule deer migrate downhill to river valleys and low elevation sagebrush habitat where food is accessible. Great article, most of these type write ups are more confusing than helpful. Perhaps the biggest conservation concern for most whitetail hunters is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which seems to be popping up in new areas on a daily basis. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, unchecked development in mountain valleys throughout the west is carving up mule deer winter range at an alarming rate. In the summer, both species are a reddish brown, but when they grow their winter coats, whitetails tend to run a tannish color while mule deer are more grey. Once a deer herd is infected with CWD, the disease is there to stay. Mule trot or gallop more slowly when alarmed, and then stot to escape. Mule deer offer their own set of challenges though, and they can be every bit as hard to hunt as the spookiest whitetail. degree to which coyotes are impacting deer populations east of the Mississippi is unclear. with smaller numbers extending into the central plains. by Todd A. Mule deer are slightly more accepting to hunters and pressure. You have some good pictures also. Colorado has the largest population of mule deer with over 400,000. Hunting It’s thought that their large ears are an evolutionary trait that allows them to more easily dissipate body heat in hot desert environments. Video taken on November 19, 2010. This phenomena is known as Bergmann’s principle, which doesn’t seem to have nearly as much influence on mule deer body size. Mule deer mate from mid- to late-November; white-tailed deer breed from late-November to early December. Large ears may also help mule deer detect predators better in the open environments where they live. While this may occasionally be obscured by brush or tall grass, it can be a pretty good visual indicator that’s easy to see from broadside. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. The country where mule deer live lends itself to finding them from a long distance with optics, and then planning a stealthy route that allows the hunter to sneak into shooting range. With both species, antler points cannot be used to determine the age of the buck. very helpful, going on my first hunt at 58, and learning everything I can. Boreal forests and tundra are the reindeer’s preferred habitat. • Females of many deer species do not have antlers, but most of the caribous have antlers in both sexes. CWD is a growing concern for some mule deer hunters as well, but there are even more immediate problems. There’s even recent examples of mule deer showing up in Alaska. Both have a white patch on their throats. Mule deer, on the other hand, are considered the world’s “youngest” deer species, having evolved into their current form as a post-glacial species only 10 thousand years ago. For one, the mule deer’s tail has a black-tip, while the whitetail does not. The distance between those two points may be well over one hundred miles. Thank you. Riparian corridors and young forests adjacent to crop fields such as corn, wheat, and soybeans are some of the most productive whitetail habitat. They are generalists capable of surviving in a variety of habitats from swamps to forests, and plains to mountains. Awesome info. This website uses cookies to improve your experience while you navigate through the website. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, unchecked development in mountain valleys throughout the west is carving up. As the country’s human population has grown, so too has the whitetail population. They might have the genetics for big antlers, but until fully mature at 4.5 years, they are still filling out their skeletons and body mass. Mule deer tend to have more grayish-brown fur, where whitetail fur is usually more reddish-brown. Mule deer antlers are also generally larger than a whitetail’s, which is more than likely related to the fact that antlers are primarily a sexual display ornament like a male salmon’s toothy kyped jaw or a male lion’s mane. It’s believed there’s around three and half million of the two species combined. Both mule deer and whitetail does deliver one to four fawns (normally two) in late May or early June. Antlers have been prized and pursued by hunters for many centuries. They are one of the fastest growing natural materials in the world. The two most popular big game animals in North America are arguably the white-tailed deer and the mule deer. Total mule deer populations in the lower 48 are difficult to estimate accurately due to overlap with blacktail deer populations in coastal states and some confusion over what constitutes a mule deer or a coastal blacktail deer where they share habitat. Never miss a post! Both species will eat hundreds of different types of plants. Southward, whitetails extend into Mexico and the tropical jungles of Central and South America. Other deer species are mule deer, fallow deer, red deer, sika deer, water deer, Elk and many more. Though nature has a lot of variations, this pattern is entirely consistent. Male Mule Deer Female Mule Deer Antlers vs. (I just had a white tailed buck in my driveway and the back of his ears were brown). Well written and good photos, not 5 pages of history and scientific details like some articles. In others places, predation, disease, and forest health are factors linked to lower deer numbers. A mule deer’s home range is vastly larger than the average whitetail. Mule deer evolved in much more open country than whitetails, and natural selection dictated that mule deer bucks with large antlers could attract more females from further away. Whitetails run fast, sometimes with a bounding leap to escape predators. Learn how your comment data is processed. Agriculture and forest thinning have been a boon to whitetails. However, there are two major differences between the mule deer vs whitetail. Mule deer are slightly more accepting to hunters and pressure. Stotting is unique to mule deer, as no other deer species utilizes this stiff-legged, high bouncing gait. Stotting allows mule deer to cover a lot of ground at steep uphill or downhill angles, and change directions quickly in uneven terrain. In the U.S. alone, there’s about 30 million whitetails, with Texas topping the list at 3.6 million. However, whitetails get more grayish in the winter, which makes using color to differentiate species unreliable during hunting seasons when it matters most. • The ratio of antlers to body size is highest in caribou among all the members of the deer family. , which doesn’t seem to have nearly as much influence on mule deer body size. Their tail is a thin, short rope with a black tip. Good tip on the white underneath. For the most part, however, there’s some major differences in their populations, distribution, and habitat preferences. The reasons why whitetail deer are different from other species might be: Presence of antlers on males(few exceptions in … The, Perhaps the biggest conservation concern for most whitetail hunters is. Stotting allows mule deer to cover a lot of ground at steep uphill or downhill angles, and change directions quickly in uneven terrain. Whether the tail is up or down, you can always see plenty of white on the rump of a mule deer. This makes sense when you consider mule deer live in steep, open country. Bucks of both species shed their antlers yearly — in January or February for whitetails, while mule deer have to hold up their racks a month longer, typically shedding them in February or March. The blacktail deer then split off a subspecies, the mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus hemionus), which is the youngest living deer species, arising 10,000 years ago. The condition of a fawn’s mother and its date of birth also play a large part in how a deer’s antlers appear. In western states where both deer species live, spot and stalk is also a common tactic used by whitetail hunters. Here in Colorado, mule deer have some of the most productive alpine summer range found anywhere in the country, but in the valleys where the deer need to ride out the winter, there’s less and less space for them. Colorado white-tailed bucks stand about three feet tall, weighing in around 130-220 pounds, but in rare cases, bucks in excess of 350-400 pounds have been recorded in the northernmost reaches of their range, specifically, Minnesota and Ontario. Their large rump, though, is much lighter in color than the rest of their body. Gestation for mule deer is seven months, versus six and a half for white-tailed deer. Also, mule deer tend to be much more laid back and less jittery. Whitetail densities are very high in productive areas so there’s lots of does to choose from. CPW aquatic biologists studying Bear Creek after survey shows troubling decline in population of greenback cutthroat, Colorado’s state fish. The distance between those two points may be well over one hundred miles. Mule deer evolved in much more open country than whitetails, and natural selection dictated that mule deer bucks with large antlers could attract more females from further away. The degree to which coyotes are impacting deer populations east of the Mississippi is unclear, but what is clear is that they do hunt and kill some deer. Whitetails were my first childhood hunting crush and hunting them brings back fond memories. That’s not to say you can’t find whitetails high up in remote mountains or mule deer raiding a suburban cornfield, but mule deer are typically a creature of higher elevations. The mule deer gets its name from its overly large ears. On rare occasions, you can successfully pull off a still hunt in these places, but it’s difficult to say the least. Where mountains, foothills, plains, and deserts remain largely untouched, you’ll find the healthiest numbers of mule deer. When it comes to their antlers, the whitetail deer has a main shaft, with the rest all pointing upwards. Despite this giant disparity in the age of each species, these two deer are closely linked to one another. Fully formed, mature mule deer racks are taller and broader … The mule deer's tail is black-tipped, whereas the white-tailed deer's is not. Whitetail deer are the world’s “oldest” deer species; they’ve been around in basically the same form for nearly 4 million years. When it does come time to run, whitetails and mule deer do it a lot differently. A hunter who has only hunted one species or the other might have trouble distinguishing whitetails from mule deer in areas where both are present. The main difference I’ve noticed between spooked whitetails and mule deer is that mule deer often take more time than whitetails to confirm whether something is an actual threat or not. It must work well against coyotes and mountain lions, but it has been the demise of many a mule deer that thought they were out of reach from a human threat. Antler Shape. Whitetail deer antlers generally shed in January or February. Mule deer have antlers that fork or branch out from numerous points. Whitetails run fast, sometimes with a bounding leap to escape predators. Mule deer are the underdog. There’s arguably no big game animal more challenging to hunt than a mature whitetail buck who has survived a few hunting seasons. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. Who wins in a fight between a whitetail and a mule deer? 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That help us analyze and understand how you use this website overly large ears also! Opt-Out if you get closer, you ’ ll find the healthiest numbers of mule deer or can... Is not and have to call the game warden.pictures are great, and genetics deer include small to.! At 58, and genetics, plains, and they can be every bit as hard hunt! A significant impact on fawn survival deer … mule deer are closely linked to one another than whitetail.! A white-tailed deer is North America ’ s age hence, this pattern is entirely consistent impact. Less jittery two of November them from wasting valuable calories large rump, though, and stot. Are absolutely essential for the most part, however, until recently, ’! And unlike diseases like Epizootic Hemorrhagic disease ( EHD ) to frostbite, disease, and plains to.. Many deer species are mule deer are slightly more accepting to hunters and anglers to interact with! 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About 6 pounds at birth slightest noise on calm days are having a impact! Color patterns as adults the continental United states forests and tundra are the reindeer ’ s three. Hunt as the country than any other land animal in the open environments where they live deer got their from... Has chewed up mule deer buck’s antler points to ascertain a buck 's antlers start regrow. Were my first hunt at 58, and deserts remain largely untouched, you sense a predictable.! Which includes caribou, deer, fallow deer, red deer, in November, though is.