Must be that time of year to fatten up on the lush greens. Saw two Mule Deer bucks happily browsing between the empty mule corral and the generator building (just in case of power failure).
Mule Deer are browsers and eat a great variety of vegetable matter, including fresh green leaves, twigs, lower branches of trees, and various grasses. They eat so carefully they can even consume the fruit of cactus.
The Mule Deer carries its thin, black-tipped tail drooped, unlike the uplifted, bushy white tail of its eastern cousin. They have large ears that move constantly and independently and thus the name Mule Deer.
They have a distinctly different gait from the leisurely, graceful leaps of the white-tail deer. When startled, a Mule Deer will move in a series of stiff-legged jumps up to 8 yards (7.3 m) with all four feet hitting the ground together. In this way they can reach a speed of 45 mph for short periods.
Mule Deer are active primarily in mornings, evenings and moonlit nights. This inactivity during the heat of the day is a behavioral adaptation to the desert environment that conserves water and keeps the body temperature within livable limits. Sweat glands and panting also provide evaporative cooling during hot periods. During the middle of the day, the Mule Deer beds down in a cool, secluded place. Another physical adaptation, its larger feet, allows the Mule Deer to claw out water as much as two feet deep, which it detects with its keen sense of smell.
Antler growth begins in the spring. Antlers are a true bone, covered with "velvet," a soft, skin-like tissue that carries nourishment and calcium for the rapidly growing antlers. Full growth is attained in late summer with the tines forking into a series of Y's and rising above the head. After the antler growth is completed, the blood-supplying velvet is no longer needed and begins to fall or get rubbed off. This leaves the antlers shiny and hard. Mule Deer breed in late November and early December. A buck will find a suitable doe and they will often play chase games at breakneck speeds before mating. They will remain together for several days. then late each winter the antlers fall off, and with spring, the growth cycle begins again.
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