White Tailed (Odocoileus Virginianus)
Mule Deer (Odocoileus Hemionus)
Deer are members of the Ungulate family, which
are animals with hooves.
Mule deer are quite plentiful in the Rockies and they prefer more
open areas so you are more likely to see them than their white
tailed cousins. They have larger ears than the whitetail to allow
them better hearing in open areas where prey may be lurking. Cougars are a threat but you are unlikely to see a reclusive cougar. They avoid humans.
One of the
a deers' most endearing traits is the way it bounces when
running. Called "stotting" or "pronking" the animal jumps and lands with all four hooves
at the same time. It's hilarious to see.
Good places to see deer include the massive Edmonton River Valley,
Alberta's agricultural lands where predators are less prevalent, lakeland
areas, Yellowhead Highway, Jasper townsite, Pyramid Lake and Maligne
Road near Jasper. Kananaskis Country and Waterton are also good
When a deer gallops, its dew claws will
show in its tracks (not shown here)
Their are several species of the deer family
prominent in Alberta. Moose and Wapiti (elk) are covered on other pages. Mule Deer and White tailed deer
are covered here.
Deer average 3 to 4 feet in height and 5 to 6 feet feet in length
with females about 20 % smaller. Brownish in the summer, graying
somewhat in the winter. Both have white tailed rumps (the mule
deer has much less white on the rump). The white tailed deer has
white undermarkings and white flashes around its snout. Mule deers
have ears that are quite a bit larger and have a black tipped
tail. White tail deer average 100 to 300 pounds with the mule
deer about 10% larger.
Deer live on grasses,
leaves and twigs. They are constantly on the move for
new food sources and are vigilant to any sounds around
them. This, combined with their terrific agility in woods,
is the main defence against predators.
Does will give birth to one, two or rarely
three fawns. Born in May or June the young weigh in at
6 or 7 pounds. Both Mule and White tail deer fawns have
white spots. Fawns can stand and move a few hours after
birth but spend most of their first months hiding.
They give off no scent whatsoever which makes it almost
impossible for predators to sniff them out.
Vocalizing deer. People will seldom witness sounds
from deer but they do actually snort, groan, cough, yell and the
young have been heard to bleat like a sheep.
Body Language. Deer signal danger
to other deer very quietly so as not to draw attention. They will
flash their tails (called flagging), showing the white underside
as a "silent danger signal".