Saturday, November 21, 2020

California Mule Deer

I've spent years and lots of time hiking in the mountains and foothills of Southern California and I've seen very few deer. Just off the top of my head, I can think of: (a) four this year in and near Corn Springs (a siting of one and a siting of three); (b) several near Mount San Jacinto, at least one in Round Valley and one in Tamarack Valley; (c) one near Deep Creek in the San Bernardino Mountains; (d) one in Live Oak Canyon and several in our residential neighborhood near Live Oak Canyon; and (e) one near the summit of Mt. Baldy.  I've had a little better luck in the Sierras: near the Cottonwood Lakes above Lone Pine; near Thousand Mile Lake outside Mammoth; and in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. Today I had my best deer experience in California, by far. It was almost like experiences I've had in Utah and Colorado where mule deer are very common. I probably saw about 15 in and between Covington Park and Big Morongo Canyon Reserve in Morongo, California, just east of Hwy 62.
A mother and an older fawn.

A little later I went walking into the trees where they disappeared and found them bedded down. 
The California mule deer is a subspecies of the mule deer and I wondered if what I was seeing were California mule deer, or perhaps desert mule deer, or even southern mule deer, which are found in southernmost California. But as I look to see what differentiates the subspecies of mule deer I find an article here that casts doubt on most of the distinctions in the subspecies, except for the black-tailed deer, based on some limited DNA testing. 
This is actually a pretty good sized buck. 

This buck is hanging back in the trees. I think it may be the same one, but I'm not positive.

This is a spike buck with very small antlers. 

This is my favorite photo from my following them into the trees. Most of those photos had substantial barriers such as significant branches and trees that obstructed the views. 

1 comment:

  1. I love that last photo. I almost wish I had gotten up early to go with you this morning. Almost.