Friday, May 22, 2009

Mule Deer

Growing up in Utah I saw lots of mule deer. I was with my father and brother, Layne, when my father shot a four-point buck in Tooele. I went hunting for them myself a number of times: in Hoyt's Canyon near Kamas at least twice, where I was with Bear Backer when he shot a buck; and in the City Creek Canyon area several times, but I have never shot one myself. At the national parks, Zion's and Bryce Canyon in particular, they are very plentiful.

In California, it is a different story. For all of the time I've spent hiking, I have seen relatively few. As a scoutmaster going on monthly outings, I didn't see a deer for a year and a half, until I saw one at a distance near Deep Creek in the San Bernardino Mountains. I have seen a few near Mount San Jacinto, in Round Valley and in nearby Tamarack Valley. The young buck in velvet, below, was seen in Tamarack Valley in July 1993.

With all of the hiking I've done in the Sierras, I've only seen a few deer there and I have no good pictures of them. The only ones I actually recall seeing were in the Cottonwood Lakes Basin the several times I have been there. Below is a picture of a doe I saw with my brother, Matt, in the Henry Fork's area of the Uinta Mountains in northeastern Utah.
Perhaps the best view of a deer I've had since living in California came on a trip with the family to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I got these pictures of a beautiful buck in velvet:

But my favorite experience came close to home. One morning I was in our canyon on a walk and happened to have my camera. I may have been on my way to see the Cooper's hawk nest (the subject of a prior blog). Something alerted me to look closely in the bushes. I was scanning for a coyote, which I commonly saw on my walks. All of the sudden, I picked out a beautiful buck mule deer, in velvet, blending in to the live oaks. I was stunned. I was within a quarter to half mile of my home.
I have seen one other buck near our home, crossing the street early in the dark hours of the morning near Alta Vista, and several does. What once was taken for granted, while living in Utah, is now deemed a privilege and relished.

In July 2009 while on a backpacking trip from Mammoth to Yosemite Valley, we had a number of great mule deer sightings. This buck walked right through our camp early one morning at Thousand Island Lake.
While hiking through Tuolumne Meadows we saw a number of different deer.

In June 2013, while hiking Mt. Baldy (outside of Los Angeles) I ran across this beautiful doe not too far from the summit.
In August 2013, in downtown Buena Vista, Colorado, we found three large buck mule deer feeding on a lawn. The first picture is of the largest buck. We were just feet away and they mostly ignored us.
Mule deer buck in Buena Vista, Colorado
Three bucks all feeding in Buena Vista.
In November 2013, while visiting my daughter in Lehi, Utah, I drove up into Alpine with my granddaughters. We saw a group of at least ten mule deer feeding near the road.  
A small buck in a herd of deer in Alpine, Utah
Buck in Alpine, Utah
In August 2014, about nine miles east of Buena Vista, Colorado, I see a number of mule deer grazing, including the first fawns I believe I've ever seen.
Doe near rented cabin outside Buena Vista.

What looks like a very young fawn.

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