MULE DEER, or BLACKTAIL, a deer U of the western States (Odocoileus hemionus), remarkable for its disproportion ately large ears. Its common name Thlacktail° among the hunters is due to the black color of the terminal part of the tail, distinguishing it from the (whitetail° or eastern deer (q.v.) ; but is better reserved for the Pacific Coast species. (See BLACKTAIL). This deer is rather larger than the eastern one and is a deer of the rocky plains, and especially of the mountains, which it climbs in summer as high as it can go, pasturing upon alpine slopes and resting upon the summits of cliffs and ledges where it has a wide outlook. Its gait is very distinctive, also, consisting of a series of jerking bounds very effective on declivities, but looking strange on a level plain. The character of the sport afforded by this deer depends much upon the kind of country in which it is hunted, the method ofpursuit being very different in the chaparral of southern California from that fol lowed among the broken plains of Montana. When hiding in summer it will often wait until almost touched before starting off. In winter it gathers into herds and wanders among sheltering hills and vales. It is therefore the characteristic deer of the Rocky Mountain re gion and was formerly exceedingly numerous and one of the principal sources of food and clothing for the Indians. Originally the species occurred commonly as far east as the plains and prairies extended; hut was early extermi nated in the central Mississippi Valley; and from about 1875 to 1895 was the object of persistent slaughter by hide hunters. At the
beginning of the present century, therefore, it had nearly (li,,LppL and firm the plains south of the upper Missouri, was scarce in the central Rockies and numerous only in the less fre quented parts of the Northv'estern States and adjoining provincc-, of ( anada. Its hide makes the best tanned deer-leather (buckskin) and its flesh is excellent. The mule deer is not much taller than the Virginian deer, standing about three feet four inches high at the shoulder, but is heavier and of coarser build. The ears are very large and thickly haired, the tail round ish and white with black tip. The coat is dull yellowish in summer, palest in the southern desert varieties, but becomes bluish gray with the autumnal molt; face between the eyes dusky, elsewhere white; throat, abdomen and inside of the legs white; antlers forking equally and each prong again bifurcating. Consult Baillie-Grohman, 'Fifteen Years' Sport and Life in the Hunting Grounds of Western America (1900) ; Caton, 'Antelope and Deer of America' (1877) ; Lydekker, 'Deer of all Lands> (1898) ; Roosevelt (and others), 'The Deer Family' (1902).