Colorado’s Iconic Mule Deer

Celebrating Colorado’s wildlife heritage of mule deer out on Colorado's Eastern Plains, with a photo series by Wayne D. Lewis.
Mule deer, the iconic deer of the American West. Muleys . . . even the nickname conveys the affection westerners have for this long-eared animal.

They’ve got big ears. They bound around on spring-loaded legs. Tourists love to see them. Hunters enjoy the sport they offer and the meat they provide for the table. They live throughout Colorado and are a valuable part of Colorado’s wildlife heritage. They’re mule deer, the iconic deer of the American West.

“The time was in Colorado when deer were so plentiful that it seemed almost impossible for them to be killed off; but with the increase in population; and the more general settling-up of our state, the deer have been killed; until now they must be carefully protected, or they will meet the fate of the buffalo and become entirely extinct.”

— Colorado Game and Fish Commissioner James Shinn, 1911
The Story of Colorado's Mule Deer cover

Managing Mule Deer on a Changing Landscape

Coloradans love their long-eared muleys, but decisions on their management can’t be based solely on tradition, science or social trends. They must incorporate all these things.

Sustaining mule deer numbers at an optimal level for the future lies in collaboration… between citizens, farmers and ranchers, government, biologists, hunters, conservationists and everyone who cares about the future of Colorado wildlife. To learn more about mule deer management in Colorado, please read The Story of Colorado’s Mule Deer.


Photos are by Wayne D. Lewis. Wayne is the editor and art director of Colorado Outdoors. He is based in Denver.

One Response

  1. Show some photos of deer with blue tongue and cwd diseases. Let’s show the public what deer look like with these diseases. I have seen and smelled the carcasses of deer that died from these diseases. Give hunters a visual of what they might/will encounter while hunting for their trophy wall hanging or meat for their freezer.

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