Arizona Hunting Club & Outdoor Adventure Group

Home   Sign Up   Hunting Workshops   Hunting Photo Albums   About Us   Hunting Calendar   Hunting Members   SiteMap  Press Room  

 

Arizona Antelope
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Antelope Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Antelope
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Coyote
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Coyote Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Coyote
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Deer
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Deer Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Deer
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Dove
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Dove Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Dove
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Duck
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Duck Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Duck
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Elk
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Elk Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Elk
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Javelina
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Javelina Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Javelina
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Pheasant
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Pheasant Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Pheasant
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Quail
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Quail Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Quail
Hunting TV Channel

 

Arizona Turkey
Hunting Club
Arizona Hunting Club - Turkey Hunting in Arizona
Arizona Turkey
Hunting TV Channel

 


Arizona Mule Deer's Feeding,
Watering, Bedding and Traveling Habits

Source: Arizona Game and Fish
Mule Deer Description:
Arizona Mule Deer

A moderately large deer with large ears; antlers typically dichotomously branched and restricted almost entirely to males; metatarsal gland 8-12 cm long, narrow, and situated above midpoint of shank; upperparts in winter cinnamon buff suffused with blackish, more reddish in summer; brow patch whitish; ear grayish on outside, whitish on inside; tail usually with black tip and white basal portion; underparts white.

Mule Deer Distribution in Arizona

Distribution in Arizona. Occurs over 90% of Arizona.

Arizona Mule Deer Distribution
Arizona Mule Deer DistributionMule Deer Distribution in Arizona
Mule Deer Habits

Mule deer occupy to some extent almost all types of habitat within their range but, in general, they seem to prefer the more arid, open situations in which sagebrush, juniper, pinyon pine, yellow pine, bitter brush, mountain mahogany, and such plants predominate. Rocky hillsides covered with yucca, palo verde, aspen, mushrooms, yucca flowers, shrubs, oak, mesquite beans, janusia, cliffrose, sagebrush, juniper, coffeeberry, cacti fruit, and filaree in season provide the essentials.

The mule deer is noted for its peculiar, high-bouncing gait. Estimates of their speed vary, but Donald McLean was able to force one to a speed of 58 km an hour on a dry lake flat in California. After the first short burst of speed, the animal dropped to about 35 km an hour and was badly winded after a chase of less than 1.5 km. When allowed to choose their own gait, they are able to travel at about 30 km an hour for a considerable period of time. In rough, broken country they are at their best. There, the long, high bounds send them over the rocks and brush much faster than the average running animal can go through or around the obstructions. The longest bounds are generally made when the animals are going downhill or leaping across gullies.

Although equipped with acute senses of sight and hearing, these deer rely largely upon the sense of smell in detecting danger. Stationary objects are easily overlooked by them, but they readily detect any that are in motion.

Mule deer of both sexes normally do most of their feeding in early morning before sunrise or in late afternoon and evening after sundown. They spend the middle of the day bedded down in cool, secluded places. In summer, the bucks retire as soon as the sun shines where they are feeding and go to the dense shade of some grove to bed down for the day. In general, mature bucks prefer rocky ridges for bedding grounds because there they seem to feel more secure from the approach of danger. Does and fawns are more likely to bed down in the open. In winter, however, they often seek out sunny places well screened on at least three sides by vegetation. At night, they usually bed down in the open away from trees and bushes.

The food of the mule deer is quite varied. The mule deer enjoy the flowering stalks of lechuguilla, the basal parts of sotol, mesquite, juniper, and a number of forbs contribute to their diet. Feeding time varies with the weather, the phase of the moon, the time of the year, and type of country. During cold, snowy, winter months when food is difficult to obtain and a considerable amount is required to maintain body heat and energy, deer feed at all times of day and night. During the rutting season, feeding is often erratic, especially with bucks. During the hunting season, when many hunters are on the range, bucks do the major part of their feeding at night. Deer are more prone to feed on dark nights and are relatively quiet and bedded down when the moonlight is intense. In spring and summer, mule deer tend to feed to a greater extent upon green leaves, green herbs, weeds, and grasses than they do upon browse species; the reverse is true in fall and winter.

The rut begins in the fall, usually in November or December, but varies with locality and climatic conditions and continues until the latter part of January or even into February. During this period, the bucks have terrific battles in which the antlers are used almost exclusively. Bucks that are evenly matched in size and strength may fight until almost exhausted before one or the other is the victor. The animals are polygamous. The stronger, more virile bucks attract females to them and attempt to defend them against the attentions of the younger bucks. Small, persistent bucks can lead a large buck a miserable life, leaving him little time to take care of family duties or even to eat, because of his continued attempts to drive them away. In this period the necks of bucks become swollen, a development that is closely associated with reproduction.

The gestation period is approximately 210 days, and the fawning period extends over several weeks in June, July, and August. The female sequesters herself and drops her fawn in a protected locality where it remains for a period of a week or 10 days before it is strong enough to follow her. At birth fawns are spotted and weigh approximately 2.5 kg. They are nursed at regular intervals by the female, 10 minutes of nursing usually sufficing for a full meal. The young ones are weaned at about the age of 60 or 75 days, at which time they begin to lose their spots. The weaning time is a critical one because if green forage is not available, the fawns seldom make their transfer from milk to a diet of vegetation. If the fawn is not weaned, both mother and fawn are likely to experience difficulty in surviving a severe winter. Sexual maturity is attained at the age of about 18 months in does but ordinarily, young bucks are not allowed to participate actively in the rut until they are 3 or 4 years old.

Antlers are shed after the breeding season, from mid-January to about mid-April. Most mature bucks in good condition have lost theirs by the end of February; immature bucks generally lose them a little later. New antler growth begins immediately following the shedding of the old. Growth is extremely rapid, and massive antlers develop fully in about 150 days. While the antlers are growing, the bucks remain on the open slopes and benches where the brush is short or scattered to avoid injuring the soft, new growth. Mature bucks normally have four main points on each antler, but beyond the third year there is little or no correlation between the number of points and the age of the deer. Beyond the prime of life, the so-called "Pacific buck" type may develop, which consists of only two points, or a spike, on each side of a large set of antlers.

The age of mule deer can be determined fairly accurately up to about 24 months. At birth the fawn is equipped with upper premolars, the third and fourth lower premolars, the lower canines, and the entire lower incisor series. The second lower premolar may erupt shortly after birth or within the first 60 days. By the age of 3 months, the first upper molar is functional. At the age of approximately 1 year, the middle lower incisor is shed and replaced by a permanent one. Each permanent incisor is wider than its predecessor. At the age of 15-18 months, the molars erupt and take their place in the series, and at the age of 24-25 months, the premolars are replaced by the permanent dentition.

Mule Deer Hunt History

As befits Arizona's principal game animal, deer received some protection as early as 1887 when a four-month season of October 1 through January 31 was established by the territorial legislature. Buck-only hunting was instituted in 1893, and the season was gradually reduced until 1913 when the new state legislature authorized a two-month season and a two-buck bag limit. Even this was deemed excessive by the state's sportsmen, and a public initiative in 1916 reduced the limit to one buck deer to be taken during the month of October.

Despite a serious overpopulation of deer on the North Kaibab in the 1920s, deer numbers appeared to decline in the rest of the state. In 1929, the mule deer season was closed south of the Gila River, and even as recently as 1946, fewer than 5,000 mule deer (more than 80 percent of all deer killed) were harvested in Arizona. Then, for reasons that are still unclear, deer populations began to increase. As the populations rose, doe and "any-deer" hunts were authorized. In 1961, an all-time high of 91,120 deer hunters took 35,897 deer. More than 86 percent of these were mule deer and nearly 10,000 were antlerless animals. Archery deer hunting was also now beginning to provide a significant hunting opportunity.

A series of years of poor fawn survival followed. By 1970 fewer than 16,000 deer were taken, and hunt success had fallen to 16 percent. With the institution of permit-only deer hunting the following year, hunter numbers dropped from more than 97,000 to fewer than 68,000. Only about 9,500 mule deer were reported harvested.

Deer permit numbers gradually increased after 1972, leveling off at around 70,000 per year between 1976 and 1982, when hunters took more than 12,000 mule deer, approximately 75 percent of the total deer harvest. Then, a series of wet winters resulted in an increase in fawn survival rates, and hunter numbers and the numbers of deer bagged increased accordingly until 1986, when nearly 86,000 hunters took 25,566 deer, of which 77 percent were mule deer.

Since then, another series of droughts has occurred, and deer hunting opportunity is again being curtailed. In 1998, 44,524 hunters reported taking fewer than 10,500 deer. Of the total deer harvested that year only 60 percent were mule deer. Prospects in the near future are even more discouraging, but mule deer are "boom and bust" animals. With the advent of better than average winter rains, mule deer populations will once again improve. The only question is when.

Mule Deer Behavior:

Deer feed on grasses and forbs in the spring and summer, however, they are primarily browsers. They eat such items as twigs, bark, buds, leaves, and nuts. Important plants in a mule deer's diet include mountain-mahogany, buckbrush, cliffrose, sagebrush, buckthorn, juniper, and oak. Most feeding is done at dawn and dusk, although human activity may cause a shift to more feeding at night. In Arizona, predation on deer is mainly by coyotes, bobcats, and mountain lions.

Mule Deer Resources:
Mule Deer Hunting Guides:
Mule Deer Statistics:
  • Breeding Period: November-December
  • Young Appear: June-August
  • Average Number of Young: 2
  • Distribution: 90ft-10K ft, statewide except extreme southwest corner of state
  • Habitat: Desert shrub, grasslands, pinon-juniper, pine, aspen-fir, and mountain meadows
  • Food Preference: Weeds, palo verde, aspen, mushrooms, yucca flowers, shrubs, oak, mesquite beans, janusia, cliffrose, sagebrush, juniper, coffeeberry, cacti fruit, and filaree in season
  • Range: 30-50 sq. miles
  • Live Weight: M-200-225lbs.; F-110-125lbs.
  • Predators: Mountain Lion, Coyote and Eagle

Top Hunting Club Website Award

Copyright 2008 Arizona Hunting Club & Outdoor Adventure Group. All Rights Reserved.