Mule deer buck after a fight. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.
For hunters, photographers, biologists, wildlife watchers, etc., when it comes to deer in the fall, the talk always turns to the rut. “When does it start? Which is first — whitetails or muleys?” While the people are debating, the bucks are out battling and chasing does in the field. This mule deer buck was captured by my camera this morning, coursing through the grasslands right after a fight. I’m not sure if he was the winner or loser, but he was riled up, sniffing, grunting and intent on finding a receptive doe. At one point, three does were on one side of a fence, so he squeezed under it to get to them as soon as possible and gave each a good sniff.
I can’t tell you exactly when the rut begins and ends, but I can share that for this buck, the time is now.
Wayne D. Lewis is the editor and art director of Colorado Outdoors magazine.
Mule deer buck and doe during the rut. All photos and video by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW.
Let me start by stating that I am not a videographer — no awards will be won by me. I’m a decent photographer and an acceptable (I think) writer, but I am fully aware that David Attenborough will not be contacting me any time soon for my video skills. That being said, if a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth considerably more of those words.
For years, words and pictures have been all I have had to go by when researching the behaviors of deer (both white-tailed and mule) during the rut, but last weekend I was lucky enough to find myself surrounded by deer acting quite rutty. So, in between capturing still photos, I made use of my Nikon’s video function. According to some of my sources, white-tailed deer start their rut a week or so earlier than the muleys and that seemed to be true last weekend. Whitetail bucks were running through the shrubs and over the hills like hormonal teenagers, but once a whitetail buck found a doe that might be receptive, he tended to her with laser focus, only taking breaks to run off competitors.
However, the mule deer were just ramping up. “They’re not acting very rutty,” said one of the other photographers as we shot different angles of the same buck and doe. The bucks would chase the does to see whether they were ready and receptive. There was a fair amount of thrashing at rubs, snorting, sniffing, stamping and performing the flehmen response. If I capture more of their behaviors, I will update this post. Read more
Mule deer buck. Photo by © Wayne Lewis/CPW.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife along with the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Advisory Group seek public comment on CWD management plan.
From October 1 – 31, 2018, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is asking for interested individuals to review and comment on the chronic wasting disease (CWD) adaptive management plan created by the CWD Advisory Group. Your comments will be carefully considered before management actions are voted on by the CPW Commission in January.
Please provide feedback using this public comment form.
There are many problems facing our state’s deer and elk herds and CPW is working to overcome these challenges to stabilize, sustain and increase populations and habitats throughout the state. Read more
This time of year, most outdoors-obsessed Coloradans grab their cell phones, Nikons, Canons — anything with a lens — and head to the mountains in search of Instagram-worthy photos of changing aspens. Local TV forecasters show detailed maps of peak times in peak areas, guiding caravans of leaf lovers into the hills. For them, the official signs of the change of season are mountains painted yellow and gold.
I, however, wanted to chronicle a different sign of the season — one more interesting to orange-clad hunters: that of mule deer bucks shedding their antler velvet. During the first few weeks of September, a few times a week, I would leave work and head to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge in northeast Denver hoping to find bucks lit by the golden-hour light. At the Arsenal, they have decent populations of both mule and white-tailed deer, but by the time I started this project, the whitetail bucks had all shed their velvet.
Andy Holland, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife big game manager, thinks that the peak date for mule deer shedding is Sept. 15. “But it varies,” he says. Read more
Photo by Wayne D. Lewis/CPW
Colorado’s mule deer are an icon of the American West. They are cherished for wildlife watching and the economic benefit they provide to local communities through big-game hunting. However, recent declines in mule deer populations have raised concerns among Colorado residents, hunters and wildlife managers.
A 2012 Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) population study showed that there are an estimated 408,000 mule deer in Colorado — a number that is 22 to 29 percent below CPW’s statewide population goal of 525,000 to 575,000 animals. Additionally, the decline of mule deer has occurred almost entirely on Colorado’s Western Slope with populations in some areas down more than 50 percent of their historic numbers. Read more