Make sure you know the difference between white-tailed deer and mule deer

In the Panhandle region, white-tailed deer and mule deer ranges often overlap and there is no harvest of antlerless mule deer allowed. Hunters need to be extra vigilant about species identification before a shot is taken.

Since the rifle deer season opener on October 10th, Panhandle Conservation Officers have already seized four illegally taken mule deer. Hunters need to pay particular attention to Unit 1 where the antlered mule deer season doesn’t open until November 1 and closes on November 20.

Every year, Conservation Officers handle violations that are a results of misidentification of Idaho’s deer species. Now is the time to review the difference between these two species.

Mule Deer

  • Large ears in proportion to head
  • White rump
  • Rope-like tail with black tip
  • Antlers (of older males) fork and fork again

mule_deer_buck
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IDFG

White-tailed Deer

  • Ears are smaller in proportion to head than a mule deer
  • Brown rump
  • Tail is brown with white fringe, bottom of erect tail is all white
  • Antlers (of older males) consist of main beams with 3 to 5 tines projecting upward

white-tailed_deer_buck
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IDFG White-tailed Deer Plan

It is the hunter’s responsibility to be able to identify the species they hunt and know when and where hunting for that species is allowed. Regulations can be found in the current Idaho Big Game 2020 Seasons and Rules booklet.

Article contributed by: Rob Morris, Senior Conservation Officer