View Full Version : Hybrid Mulie-Whitetail

December 16, 2007, 11:13 PM
My buddy showed me pictures and the antlers today of a buck he shot this year in NW Okla. He said it was running with mule deer and has a mule deer tail and ears (per the picture), but the antlers are perfectly-formed typical whitetail all the way - your basic 8 pointer - no mulie-style forks. So they can interbreed?

December 17, 2007, 07:16 AM
I think i read about it somewere but im not sure were. Can you post pics of it?

December 17, 2007, 08:31 AM

I have heard a hypothesis that the mule deer species is in and of it's self a hybrid between Pacific Blacktail and Whitetail deer.

Art Eatman
December 17, 2007, 09:12 AM
A Pacific Blacktail would have to be a serious travellin' dude to get down here to Terlingua...

We have a few crosses in northern Brewster County. Not many; dunno why not. But, not many whitetail are seen west of the Pecos River.

The game boffins comment that the whitetail bucks are more aggressive breeders, so odds are that a muletail fawn had a whitetail father.

December 17, 2007, 09:25 AM
We have a few crosses in northern Brewster County. Not many; dunno why not.

Maybe to a whitetail, a mulie looks butt-ugly, and vice-versa, and it is only when a male of one species finds and eat some fermented hops during the height of the rut that these things happen.... :)

Double Naught Spy
December 17, 2007, 10:18 AM
I think it was in Texas Journal of Science back in the 1990s that there was an article on White-Mule hybrids. Basically, the article found that the hybrids tend to have traits that are not advantageous to survival. As I recall, they tended to take flight from danger much later than purebreds and as a result, suffer predation much easier. There were some other shortcomings, but that is the one that stood out.

December 17, 2007, 12:45 PM
A couple of years ago, coming back from deer hunting, I almost wrecked my truck as we saw a buck standing beside the road that had a perfect whitetail 4 point on one side and a typical 4 point mulie on the other side. Deer crossed the road after we passed.

Would have been the mount of a lifetime, except no one would have ever believed it was legit...maybe a european mount

December 17, 2007, 01:08 PM
Holy crap, Dave, that would have been just too cool - you're right that no one would have believed it. DNS - interesting on the not-leery straight being a side-effect - maybe that's why my buddy got this one.

December 30, 2007, 11:26 AM
I use to hunt in Oregon and you would see the Mule/Whitetail cross all the time. They were called Bench Legs by the locals. And to tell you the truth they were just as sneaky as their relatives. "Windage & Elevation", Doc.:)

Double Naught Spy
December 30, 2007, 12:46 PM
Here is a good article....

This article doesn't note the problem of flight timing I mentioned (maybe I was in error?), but does mention flight is chaotic and hence doesn't work well in hybrids...

To complicate matters, hybrids inherit predator avoidance strategies from both types of parents; the problem is, whitetail and mule deer have drastically different techniques for escaping predators.

The whitetail’s key to escaping is speed. They put their head down, follow established trails, and try to put as much distance between themselves and the predator as possible, as fast as possible. Mule deer, on the other hand, have developed a pogostick-like bounding called "stotting", where all four hooves hit the ground at the same time. This strategy developed in mule deer because they evolved in wide open and rugged country throughout the West. Their escape by stotting is not as fast as the whitetail's, but in rugged terrain it is effective for putting obstacles between the predator and the deer. Mule deer can bound over boulders and stumps that the predator must run around.

Research by Susan Lingle using captive animals in Alberta, has shown that stotting is so specialized that only deer that are 100% mule deer can do it. Even a 1/8 whitetail X 7/8 mule deer fails miserably. The hybrid's escape behavior is chaotic; the deer will typically approach the threat and jump around in confusion. Such behavior is not conducive to passing their genes on to another generation.

December 30, 2007, 03:50 PM
I use to hunt in Oregon and you would see the Mule/Whitetail cross all the time. They were called Bench Legs by the locals.Bench-legs are crosses between mulies and blacktails.

Double Naught Spy
December 30, 2007, 04:18 PM
What is the difference between a blacktail and a mule deer?

December 30, 2007, 07:37 PM
My father in law had a strange looking doe cross his property this summer and then I saw the same doe standing on a hillside about a mile from his house. It looked almost like a mule deer as it's legs were a darker color than the rest of it's body. Is this one of those Bench Legs you guys are talking about maybe? This was in Central NC.

Now, I know we don't have mulies around here. I wish we did, but we don't. However, not far from my father in law lives a fellow who has a horse ranch. He also has a lot of $. I mean loads of it. He goes out west hunting several times a year. Word around here is that he's brought back some "live specimens" (against NCWRC rules of course) and released them. Makes me wonder if there ain't a few hybrids running around as a result.

December 30, 2007, 08:18 PM
I'm told that the whitetail is extending it's range in the west at the expense of the mule deer. The mule deer are found at the higher and rougher elevations and appear to be a little tougher. They may interbreed at the fringes. Here is a picture of a little mule deer I took at about 20 yards I'll post just for the heck of it. I would like to think I got so close because of my great hunting skill, but in reality I don't think they are very smart.

January 1, 2008, 10:56 PM
Boy I learn something new every day, here I thought that a mule deer and Columbian black tail was called a "Silk Eared Walkabout" bummer huh! OOPS!! I can use all the help I can get, Doc.:rolleyes:

January 1, 2008, 11:05 PM
In northwestern Montana mulie+whitetail are very common in the area where i hunt most often 90% of the deer we shoot are some sort of cross.

January 2, 2008, 12:18 AM
What is the difference between a blacktail and a mule deer?In general, blacktail live along the coast and in the coastal mountains, mule deer live at high altitude and in drier areas. Blacktail have a black tail (hence the name), mulies have a black tip on a white tail. Blacktail are smaller and have smaller antlers than mule deer. For example, an average sized blacktail may run to 150 lbs on the hoof (smaller the farther south you go), an average mulie run 230 lbs on the hoof (smaller the farther south you go). A blacktail's antlers are generally no wider than 24", whereas a mulie's rack can go to 36" fairly easily.

There is some discussion in scientific circles as to the genetic difference between mule deer and blacktails, but I have not read anything definitive as to their genetic differences.

January 3, 2008, 10:01 PM
Blacktails have small horns ?!



January 7, 2008, 11:31 AM
Capp - I would identify those as bench-legs, blacktail/muley cross. If I remember the source of those photos, it was southern Oregon, where bench-legs are not uncommon.

Of course, I would worry about the exact details after they were down...