Because of population declines, harvests of mule deer have also declined; deer harvests (mostly mule deer), estimated to be as high as 55,000 in 1960, declined to <10,000 in 2013. Bender. Figure 3. Probably the most publicized diseases of mule deer are the epizootic hemorrhagic disease-bluetongue complex (collectively called hemorrhagic disease [HD]) and chronic wasting disease (CWD). The scarred and broken branches and bark are easily observed about 18 inches above the ground. Game Management Unit 21B Maps for GMU 21B BLM Maps: Deming Quad, Hatch Quad, Las Cruces Quad, San Mateo Mountains Quad, and Truth or Consequences Quad. 2006. After this, she may have multiple fawns if she is in good condition. Peaks in mule deer populations in the mid-1900s resulted from obvious and subtle landscape changes associated with human settlement (see, for example, the history in Clements and Young, 1997). 2007. Shop New Mexico Hunt Maps. Logan, UT: Jack H. Berryman Institute. Adults have a reddish coat in summer and a gray coat in winter. Journal of Wildlife Management, 71, 1118—1124. Conover, and N.E. Messmer. Fawns that are larger at birth, or born earlier, tend to be larger at weaning and therefore are more likely to survive. Original author: James E. Knight, Extension Wildlife Specialist. Land use policies developed by land management agencies are an important component of mule deer management. In general, mule deer have been declining in numbers in New Mexico since populations peaked around the 1960s, similar to declines seen throughout the West (Heffelfinger and Messmer, 2003). Heffelfinger, J. 5–14). 2007. Desert mule deer prefer shrublands and woodlands in desert mountain ranges and hills, or arroyos in arid desert flats. On CRLRC, mule deer densities declined from 1.9 deer/mi 2 in 2005 to 0.7 deer/mi 2 in 2008, highlighting the variation possible in deer populations in response to drought and other factors. For more information on all aspects of mule and white-tailed deer ecology and management, see Deer of the Southwest (Heffelfinger, 2006). His research and management programs emphasize ungulate and carnivore management, integrated wildlife and livestock habitat management, and wildlife enterprises in the Southwest and internationally. Mule deer have a gestation period of about seven months. Mule deer feeding is mainly crepuscular, meaning that they feed mostly early in the morning and again just before dark. 2011. Heffelfinger, J.R., and T.A. This is influenced by time of year, activity, and the kind of forage the deer is eating. They take a bite and move on, spending little time in one spot, selecting the best foods that are available. Later, improved range management favoring grasses over shrubs, control of fires allowing shrublands to grow old or develop into closed forests, and greatly reduced logging all reduced preferred mule deer habitats. In J.C. de Vos, Jr., M.R. During outbreaks, some deer die quickly with no apparent signs of disease, others may die within a week, some recover but are debilitated, and still other deer show no sign of disease during outbreaks, and survivors may develop immunity to that particular virus serotype (but not necessarily other HD virus serotypes). Most of the remainder of the diet is forbs, and grasses and succulents (e.g., cacti) usually contribute much less than 10% seasonally. New Road Updates: MyTopo GMU maps now contain updated National Forest and public land roads sourced directly from the US Forest Service and Condition, survival, and productivity of mule deer in semiarid grassland-woodland in east-central New Mexico. Cooperative Extension programs, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Mule Deer Working Group (, and State Wildlife Agencies all have publications and other information available on increasing the quality of deer habitat. These maps include public land ownership boundaries, topography, roads, and key terrain features. The breeding class is usually the prime-aged mature bucks, plus a few younger bucks who are exceptionally large-bodied or aggressive. The resulting track patterns of the two species obviously differ. However, managers can continue to try to maintain or increase the quality of remaining habitats to increase mule deer numbers above the current low levels. (Photo by Mara Weisenberger.). Whether you’re hunting grouse, squirrels, quail or waterfowl, or holding out for that elusive trophy bull elk, mule deer or pronghorn, New Mexico’s hunting opportunities are as abundant and diverse as its terrain and habitat.. New Mexico also offers hunting opportunities not found anywhere else, including hunts for exotic species including Persian ibex, oryx and Barbary sheep. Journal of Range Management, 50, 129–138. 2001. Fawns get up on their feet only hours after birth, but they are rather unsteady and very susceptible to predation. Like other ruminants, the mule deer has a four-chambered stomach. Ultimately, however, habitat is the key to mule deer populations. Young. Game Management Unit 2A Between feedings, the food is regurgitated and rechewed as cud. This, combined with a faster metabolism than elk or cattle, is what drives their need for high-quality, easily digestible foods. Human-Wildlife Interactions, 6, 245—260. This encourages harvest by hunters where numbers need to be reduced and maintains a younger, more productive age structure in the doe population. Survival and cause-specific mortality of mule deer fawns in northcentral New Mexico. Mature desert mule deer average about 140 lb field-dressed, with the largest deer approaching 170 lb. Seasonally, mule deer diets are >60% browse in spring, >50% browse in summer and autumn, and >80% browse in winter (Heffelfinger, 2006). Topo Maps, Aerial Photos, and Topo/Aerial Hybrids. Mule deer are classed as concentrate selectors, meaning they eat lesser amounts of very high-quality foods; hence, they select for foods with high concentrations of readily digestible nutrients such as simple sugars. Food passes through their digestive system much more rapidly than in elk or cattle, however, and this short retention time limits just how much plant material mule deer can digest. Uncertainty still lingers over exactly how CWD is spread and even the causative agent, which is likely an abnormal protein called a prion. 2003. There are two subspecies of mule deer in New Mexico, the Rocky Mountain mule deer (O. hemionus hemionus) and the desert mule deer (O. hemionus eremicus). These changes have decreased the amount of mule deer habitat in New Mexico and throughout the West. (Photo by Terry Spivey, USDA Forest Service, When predation is additive to other mortality factors, then predation can limit deer populations. is a Research Scientist (Wildlife) with the Department of Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources at NMSU. Owners who want to improve mule deer habitat on private lands should keep in mind a wide range of considerations. Bender, L.C., J.C. Boren, H. Halbritter, and S. Cox. Unbred mature does are rare in New Mexico. To find more resources for your business, home, or family, visit the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences on the World Wide Web at If they are not bred during this time, their cycles will continue, and 28 days later they will again be receptive. Headrick (Eds. The Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website ( is an excellent source for up-to-date information regarding CWD and its management. Malnutrition is the most common disease of mule deer (Bender et al., 2007, 2010, 2011), and when other diseases and parasitism cause mortality, the actual underlying cause is usually poor-quality food that causes malnourishment. Access district and public hunting land maps. Rodden. This continued movement ensures a properly balanced diet if sufficient plant species are present. Typically >80% of unhunted mule deer adults in New Mexico survive each year, although this can drop to <60% during severe droughts (Bender et al., 2007, 2010, 2011). Each pellet is about 1/2 inch long and tapered on one end. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator. Mule deer bucks have antlers that are forked (Figure 2) instead of being like a white-tailed deer's, whose points rise from the main beam (Figure 3). These changes have driven deer populations down because they have greatly reduced both the amount and quality of mule deer habitat. Mule deer can live about 10–15 years. Fort Collins: U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. After about age seven the number of fawns will decrease again. Although predators kill deer, predation may have little effect on the population if predation substitutes for (e.g., is compensatory to) other forms of mortality because deer are in poor condition or otherwise predisposed. College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, Authors: Respectively, Senior Research Scientist (Wildlife) and Retired Extension Range Management Specialist, Department of Extension Animal Sciences and Natural Resources, New Mexico State University. Deer of the Southwest. ), Mule deer conservation: Issues and management challenges (pp. We seek to improve the lives of New Mexicans, the nation, and the world through research, teaching, and extension. Guidelines for management of habitat for mule deer: Piñon-juniper, Chihuahuan desert, arid grasslands, and associated arid habitat types [Circular 662]. Antler size and number of points depend mostly on the deer's age, physical condition, and their genetic background (Bender, 2011). Las Cruces: New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service. As one example, the amount of forestland in aspen, probably the best mule deer habitat in northern New Mexico, has declined 88% (Bartos, 2001). 2012. In areas where deer are abundant, antlerless and either-sex hunts are used. In southern New Mexico, common foods include mountain mahogany, oaks, skunkbush, yucca, ceanothus, mesquite pods, globemallow, vervain, and silktassel. Likewise, survival of fawns can range from >50% to none surviving, and the latter occurs during droughts when condition of adult females is very poor (Lomas and Bender, 2007). The dark brown scat of mule deer is usually found in clumps. The most common sign of deer use of an area is their tracks. Normally, a doe has one fawn the first time she gives birth. Opinions are like a**holes everyones got one but not everyone cares so keep them to yourselves! build a custom map for New Mexico GMU 21B South. Acknowledgement: Some of the information presented here was obtained from publications of the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (

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