15 Reasons We Relate to Mule Deer
Reindeer get more attention than mule deer. But it's not fair. These underrated woodland ponies are a cousin of the reindeer and have a lot to offer.
Santa might even want to reconsider his choice of steed.
Mule Deer Are a Little Bit Scared of Everything
So relatable. Instead of being scared of tax season and unexpected auto repair bills, they're scared of actual predators. They have quite a few, including bears, bobcats, coyotes, mountain lions, wolves and even feral dogs.
These predators often target baby mule deer or those who are sick or injured, but all deer are naturally alert and ready to flee at all times.
They’re Also Natural Grazers
We graze on cheese and crackers, while mule deer graze on flowering, herbaceous plants, leaves, twigs and fruit. Their exact diet varies depending on where they live, but they're not very picky.
In the mountains, they snack on juniper and sage, while they'll gladly nibble on prickly pear cactus in dry regions.
They’ve Been Known to Doze off on Occasion as Well
Mule deer doze during the day for a few minutes at a time, much like we do when we haven't had enough coffee.
When they do go to sleep for the night, they seek out sheltered areas that are protected from the wind, especially in winter.
They aren't particular about where they drift off, as long as it's not windy.
While Mule Deer Don’t Hibernate, They Do Bulk Up for Winter
If you feel bad about having to pull out your roomiest sweat pants around the holidays, don't. Mule deer would have to do the same thing, only they don't have to deal with pants. Deer automatically try to eat more high fat foods in the summer and fall months.
Their bodies are also adapted to store extra fat before winter regardless of what they eat. If they didn't store up some extra reserves, they might not make it through the winter without starving.
Admittedly, They’re Way More Athletic Than We Are
Deer can easily jump over a seven- or eight-foot fence, and some can jump even higher. If you want to keep deer out of your yard, you're going to need a giant fence.
People can rarely jump vertically more than a couple of feet, so deer definitely have a leg up on this one.
And Unlike People, They’re Considered a Delicacy
The meat of deer is called venison, and some people love it. Unlike whitetail deer meat, mule deer meat naturally has notes of sage. That's because they live at higher elevations where sagebrush is a readily available snack for them.
Whitetail meat tends to be sweeter and milder in flavor, so you might as well let the cute mule deer be.
Like People, Mule Deer Live All Over the Place
OK, not all over the place, but pretty close to it. They live across the majority of North America, and they're well adapted to arid, rocky environments.
They can handle desert regions so long as there's enough vegetation to nibble on, but they migrate to higher elevations during the warmest months to escape some of the heat.
And They Take a Few Years to Mature
Mule deer grow up faster than people, but it still takes a few years.
Bucks begin growing antlers when they're just 4 or 5 months old, but it takes until they're about 5 years old until their antlers reach their full size.
They Can Be Rather Impulsive During the Process
Fights can break out among deer of all ages when mating season comes around. Just as with humans, young deer tend to be more dramatic and fiery than older ones.
In the deer world, fights are usually over the territory with the most desirable does. Hopefully, we've evolved beyond that in our world.
But Their Glow-Ups Are Pretty Incredible
As a buck matures, the number of prongs on his antlers increases.
One-pronged antlers don't look all that impressive, but by the time he's fully grown, he'll have an impressive rack of antlers with four prongs on each side.
Just Like Us, They Have to Sort Out How to Attract a Partner
Lucky for them, the mating behavior of mule deer is more simplistic than navigating online dating.
Instead of writing a dating profile, they use scent to attract mates. Deer release musky odors around mating season, which is known as deer rut.
This begins in autumn, when does come into heat. Males compete over territory, then chase does until the does decide he's proven himself.
Mule Deer Have Communities Just Like We Do
Mule deer aren't introverts. They're very social, living in multigenerational groups with several does.
When bucks turn 1, however, they usually leave their herd and venture out on their own or with a small, spread-out group of other young bucks.
It's basically like a frat house, only in the wild and without a rager every weekend.
And They Can Pick Up on Family Gossip Better Than Your Nosiest Aunt
Mule deer have much better hearing than humans, all thanks to their massive ears. Honestly, we wouldn't trade.
sEars with a 22-inch span are much more flattering on a furry-faced buck than they would be on us.
Mule Deer Can Inherit Albinism Just Like People Can
Albino deer are extremely rare, but they do exist. About one in 30,000 deer inherit albinism, but one in 1,000 are piebald.
Piebald deer have patches of white breaking up their normal pigmentation, while albino deer lack all pigment from head to tail.
But They’re Probably More Photogenic Than Most of Us, If We’re Being Honest
How is it that a creature with four stomachs and no thumbs can be cuter than most people? We have no idea. Mule deers have gone and done it anyway.
Don't be fooled, though: Deer are still wild animals, and it's best to give them space. They usually run away from people, but they can be dangerous to pets if they feel threatened.
For more fascinating wildlife facts, keep reading on Always Pets: