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To Stot or Not to Stot: The Mule Deer

May 4, 2013

Stotting? Pronghorn and other antelope are famous for bounding with all four feet off the ground. This bouncing is called stotting (or pronging). Mule deer also stot when they see a dangerous predator. Why bounce instead of fleeing full speed ahead?

It is fairly well established now that the “stotter” may be saying “I see you and I am really really fit. I can expend energy in a useless activity like this and so I can certainly get away from you. Go away.” Or something like that. The deer may also be letting other deer in the herd know that there is a predator near by.

Stotting does not seem to slow the deer down:a stotting mule deer can move very quickly over rocky slopes. Predators such as coyotes and cougars have cause to be wary when confronted by a healthy mule deer. The deer can use those sharp hooves to stomp predators. The kick of a mule deer can break the jaw of a pursuing cougar. Hunting deer is not for the weak – if you rely on tooth and claw.

Mule deer have very large ears

Mule deer have very large ears

Stotting mule deero

Stotting mule deer

mule small antsigned

Did I hear something?

The track of a stotting mule deer

The track of a stotting mule deer (facing the bottom of the frame)

Mule deer in spring coat

Mule deer in spring coat

Heading back into the bush

all photos and writing copyright Joanne Siderius 2013

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