Mule Deer Vs White Tail Deer

It is well known that mule deer originated from hybridization between white-tailed deer and coastal black-tailed deer. 

White Tail Deer

White-tailed deer were animals of warmer climates. White tails are also the smallest members of the deer family in North America. During winter they prefer to stay in the forest since they are generally animals of warmer weather. 

What is the difference between Mule Deer and White Tail? What are their things in common?

For these questions and many more we advise you to read the following article.

Populations, Distribution, and Habitat

White-tail can be found anywhere and in bunches too. Meanwhile, the widespread of mule deer is smaller and their numbers significantly lower. 

In some places, whitetails and mule deer live very close to each other. However there are several differences between them in populations, habitat and distribution.


White-tails are considered to be more paranoid and cautious against hunters but that is mostly because they have been around for centuries and traditionally have hunted down by human. 

Mule deer are a little more laid back, but they can also be very hard to hunt just like whitetails. The most preferred state to hunt down mule deer is Colorado since it’s the most populated place by mule deer. 

Mule Deer

Mule Deer hunting generally happens from end of November to mid December. Because white tail have a larger number throughout the country their hunting season is longer than mule deer. 

Wisconsin is the most preferred place for white tail hunting which is also known for having the longest deer hunting season in the country.

Due to the difference in number white tails are easier to find for hunters and their hunting season is longer, however it is a well known fact that mule deer are easier to shoot since they don’t have the same awareness as white tails do. 

Mule deer can be found in open landscapes such as deserts which makes it harder to hide from hunters.


Even though they might seem very similar, there are certain parts of their body that have many differences. The main difference is obviously the tail. Another difference is the fur. Their fur differentiates in color, and their head looks different too.

Coat Colors

You can not always count on the coat color. Both Mule Deer and White-Tails have similar coat color but when standing next to each other the difference can be seen. 

Coat color can depend on several factors such location, climate conditions, genetics and other unknown factors. Mule deer and White tails both have gray-brown color coat but the white tail have a little red nuance on their coat. Therefore their nuances are a little bit different.

The Head

There are many details that set out mule deer and white tails when it comes to the head. The difference in face color is obvious, and so are the ears. 

Mule Deer

Their antlers grow differently as well. This can be a very helpful indication when you observe a buck, however you should pay closer attention when it comes to a doe.

The Face

The white-tailed deer’s face looks different from that of the mule deer. Mule Deer have a white patch on their face and their forehead is dark. 

While white-tails have a brown forehead and face with white jaws and white circles around the eyes, and also a little bit of white on the neck.

Overall Body Size

Body size can be tricky in this comparison since most of the time they are generally the same size. 

A deer’s body size depends on many factors, including diet, time of year, age, health, and geographic location. 

However there are exceptions when it comes to size and the key factor to that is the location of the deer.

Mule Deer that live in the North part such as Canada are way bigger than White Tails living in Florida. 


Mule deer and whitetails are pretty much the same when it comes to food. They feed off various plants. 

deer eating grass

Usually their food consists of leaves, weeds, grasses, herbs, nuts, fruits and mushrooms. They can also find garden plants and fruits attractive.


  • Mule deer’s origin comes from the white tail and black tail hybridization.
  • They may look very alike however these two species have so many differences.
  • Mule deer are easier to hunt then white tails.


While white-tail and mule deer might look similar at first, they have so many differences as well. The physical differences can be seen from the tail, the fur, the antlers in bucks but also their habitat is not the same. 

They live in different parts of North America and also don’t act the same towards threat. The sad part about the hunters is that there can not be a mule deer white-tail hybrid most probably because the mule deer itself is a hybrid of white-tail and black-tail. 

The more information you have on deer the better are the chances on hunting them down. So knowing all the details on their appearance, habitat, and information on their location can be very useful once you go out hunting for them.

Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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