I’ve just returned home from a weeklong trip to photograph migratory mule deer in Southwestern Wyoming. I’ve done well in years past but I was uncertain of the number and quality of the deer I would be able to find this year. Wyoming has had two severe winters in a row with heavy spring snow, when wildlife is most vulnerable to starvation. The Wyoming Game & Fish Department has reported heavy winter mortality in the area.
This year we’ve had a relatively dry fall so far and not a lot of snow has fallen in the high mountains which forces the deer down to their winter range. It seems many of the larger bucks are still high or migrating down from the mountains. In areas where I’ve found many mature bucks in the past they were quite scarce this year.
I was able to find a good number of younger bucks like this one shown below. I’ve been told that the younger bucks migrate earlier than the mature bucks. Overall I saw plenty of deer (more than expected) and a good number of fawns with most of the does having twins.
I began searching the mule deers transitional range which are areas you would expect to find mule deer travelling along their migration route down from the high mountains to their winter range at lower elevattion. Access was difficult but I was able to locate some nice mature bucks in this habitat such as this fine buck in an aspen grove below.