Montana Outdoors

January 8, 2016

Mule deer

Filed under: Animals, Mule deer, Winter — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:17 pm

Behind the local Ranger Station there is a half-section of land that rises for a mile up a fairly open south-facing slope that is used as a summer pasture for the Forest Service pack horses and mules and also as a protected winter range for a sizable herd of mule deer. Yesterday A friend called to tell me that she had recently hiked through the area and found that the deer spending the winter there were fairly mellow and could be approached to within camera range, and so today we went back to get a few photos. Here are some that I brought back, all taken with a 70-300mm lens.

Mule deer doe

Mule deer doe feeding



There's a sound in the wind

There’s a sound in the wind

Ears above he grass

Ears above the grass

Sounds coming from two places

Sounds coming from two places

Let's talk this over

Let’s talk this over

Don't get up

Don’t bother to get up

Aware but unconcerned

Aware but not concerned

Should I jump, or...

Should I jump, or…







The herd

Part of the herd


  1. Great pictures, Terry. It must have been a wonderful feeling to get close enough for long enough to get these photos. I really like the last one with the herd. The background of grasses and rocks and snow make it special.


    Comment by wordsfromanneli — January 8, 2016 @ 8:30 pm

    • Yes, it’s always a thrill to me when I can get in fairly close to them, especially with Mule deer. It’s not often that you can catch that many in a close group here in western Montana. In the eastern part of the state that can be seen much more often. When I moved back here 20 years ago the Mule deer weren’t doing well, but now they have fully recovered their numbers and are plentiful again.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 8, 2016 @ 8:41 pm

      • That’s good to hear. When we’re visiting in eastern Montana, we sometimes scare them out of a coolie and they take off before I can even lift the camera, so I thought those were pretty good shots you got.


        Comment by wordsfromanneli — January 8, 2016 @ 9:00 pm

        • Well, I knew about where they would be and played to their incredibly enormous amount of curiosity and nobody else has bothered them there.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — January 8, 2016 @ 9:13 pm

  2. They didn’t seem to mind posing for you.


    Comment by Malcolm R. Campbell — January 8, 2016 @ 8:42 pm

    • Some of them did seem to be intentionally posing. I guess because they can’t take “selfies”.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 8, 2016 @ 8:45 pm

  3. I have to agree with Malcolm, those mule deer appeared to be posing for you. I guess they considered themselves the stars and you the paparazzi. Truly great photos!


    Comment by Mama's Empty Nest — January 9, 2016 @ 6:48 am

    • I saw no other human tracks and no predator tracks so they were pretty relaxed. I’m also quite familiar with their comfort zones and what usually will spook them. It was pleasure to see so many spread out in their home.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 1:13 pm

  4. Your first shot is particularly endearing.


    Comment by centralohionature — January 9, 2016 @ 7:04 am

    • There was plenty of grass around, but it looked as though she just wanted a little tree bark to go along with it.


      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

  5. Great photos Terry, I’m glad they were still there for you to photograph. Scrolling down, it was a treat to see part of the herd at the end, awesome!


    Comment by bayphotosbydonna — January 9, 2016 @ 7:21 am

    • It is a little unusual to see that many in such close proximity to each other, and especially on a ridge top like that. Luckily they stayed put while I approached for over a hundred yards to get the shot.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 1:16 pm

  6. Nice shots! Deer love those sunny southern slopes in winter here too. That’s a good size herd!


    Comment by New Hampshire Garden Solutions — January 9, 2016 @ 7:36 am

    • Our winters in this location are relatively mild, and those south facing slopes always have good amounts of grass and if there is any sun, it will create some open places where they can easily get at it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 1:18 pm

  7. Wow, you got some amazing shots; certainly worth the outing, your time.


    Comment by Charlie@Seattle Trekker — January 9, 2016 @ 11:35 am

    • W had to drive all of 5 miles to get to where we started hiking. I would have been very happy to hike the whole way for the experience that day.


      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 1:19 pm

  8. How wonderful to observe the mule deer from such a close distance. They seem totally unafraid of you.


    Comment by Vicki — January 9, 2016 @ 6:27 pm

    • Yes, it’s wonderful to do that. They were not much afraid because I approached them slowly, in a way that they didn’t see as threatening and stayed just outside of their comfort zone, their personal space. As winter progresses I plan to return there to watch them in their homes.


      Comment by montucky — January 9, 2016 @ 7:35 pm

  9. Hi Montucky, Quite the set of pictures. I like the Mule Deer a little better than I do the White-tailed. Just a quirky preference. I am glad you have found the herd and have taken the nice pictures. They are great! Have a very good coming week!


    Comment by wildlifewatcher — January 10, 2016 @ 10:10 am

    • I have always loved the Mule deer. They are a special species for me. I hope you have a great week too!


      Comment by montucky — January 10, 2016 @ 8:40 pm

  10. What a splendid series, Terry. We do have mule deer in Texas, but they’re farther west. Around here, it’s all white tail. Those tails — or rumps — are the detail that caught my attention. I remembered your photos of the sheep, with their own white rump patches. I was looking at some photos of common gallinules over the weekend, and saw the same white patches under their tails. It’s fascinating that such similar markings should be found on so many creatures. They obviously useful.

    I especially like the photo of the pair wondering, “Should I jum’?” Those backward-swiveled ears are great!


    Comment by shoreacres — January 11, 2016 @ 6:43 am

    • One of the fun things about being around wild deer is observing their survival strategies as well as their beauty. they are very well adapted to their historical environment, but don’t do very well in the artificial environment that we have evolved. The further away from the human discord they live, the better they do and it’s obvious by just looking at them.


      Comment by montucky — January 11, 2016 @ 10:52 am

  11. Wow great shots. Thanks for sharing.


    Comment by Julie — January 12, 2016 @ 7:35 am

  12. Such lovely photos! It is fun when they allow you to get this close:)


    Comment by Inger — January 12, 2016 @ 7:15 pm

    • I enjoy seeing them up close too. Fortunately I frequently do here. Today was exceptional because of their numbers.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 12, 2016 @ 9:10 pm

  13. They’re beautiful! I’m glad they’re in a protected area. I hope you told them to stay there.


    Comment by Candace — January 12, 2016 @ 7:26 pm

    • They should do quite well in that place. They have no need to cross a highway or railway and hunting isn’t permitted. They certainly lkook content and in very good condition.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 12, 2016 @ 9:12 pm

  14. Lovely photos! I especially like the one of the herd among the rocks, ears popping up everywhere 😀


    Comment by de Wets Wild — January 12, 2016 @ 8:11 pm

    • Yes, the setting was very nice. They are on the crest of a ridge and the land beyond them goes down a long slope with a tall mountain in the background. It’s a little unusual to see ten mulies so close together though.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 12, 2016 @ 9:15 pm

      • Are they normally loners?


        Comment by de Wets Wild — January 13, 2016 @ 7:13 pm

        • No, but they usually hang out in family groups and seldom so many so close together. There were about 70 deer spread out in about a half section of land and it’s wonderful to see that many mulies together.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by montucky — January 13, 2016 @ 7:38 pm

  15. You have been lucky when You saw them. I love Your photos.


    Comment by Sartenada — January 22, 2016 @ 1:59 am

    • They were settled down in their winter range and were quite calm so I could get fairly close without disturbing them.


      Comment by montucky — January 22, 2016 @ 3:38 pm

  16. I always had the White Tailed Deer passing through my yard. Kind of look like the mule deer in your photos, but not. 🙂
    We had a big snow storm the other day…..I thought of you.


    Comment by Mary Strong-Spaid — January 24, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

    • I have been concerned about everyone who has been affected by those big winter storms. It must have been very hard for those who were not used to it, especially those who live in the big cities and must depend on the large infrastructure of the city for safety, shelter and sustenance.


      Comment by montucky — January 24, 2016 @ 10:36 pm

  17. What a cool place!! Beautiful photos! ♡ Thanks for sharing.


    Comment by HikingGirlWithDog — February 3, 2016 @ 11:13 pm

  18. Great pictures as if you’re right next to them. I just showed my husband Tom these and he was wondering if any had antlers and then we stumbled on the group photo with one with antlers. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by heartandsoul974 — January 31, 2018 @ 4:40 am

    • They were mild enough that they were good subjects for the 300mm lens. I think many of the bucks had already shed their antlers by when these photos were taken.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by montucky — January 31, 2018 @ 3:50 pm

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