Mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) Photo Credit: Jennifer Jarrett
In Kansas, mule deer are only found in the western one-third of the state, especially on the High Plains, Smoky Hills, and Red Hills. White tailed deer are more common east of these locations.
Compared to a white-tailed deer, the mule deer is slightly smaller in stature, has a black-tipped tail & larger ears. Also the antlers bifurcate as they grow instead of sprouting smaller branches off a main stem. The buck’s antlers are shed in the winter after rutting has occurred in the fall. Although mule deer can run, they frequently engage in stotting (pronking or pronging). This behavior is characterized by springing into the air with all feet off the ground simultaneously while the head is pointed downward as do gazelles. They have a relatively small rumen requiring them to eat only nutritious plants. Their habitat is becoming fragmented by construction of highways and residential subdivisions.