Mule deer have several distinct strategies for avoiding predators and may choose to hide or move into cover and cautiously outmaneuver the predator.
Common predators of mule deer include pumas, coyotes, bobcats, golden eagles, feral dogs, and black bears.
Mule deer have several distinct strategies for avoiding predators. Once danger is detected, a mule deer may choose to hide or move into cover and cautiously outmaneuver the predator.
The most common strategy is to depart while the predator is still a long way off and move several miles to another area.
At an unacceptably high cost per unit time of locomotion, a mule deer may also choose to rapidly bound uphill, imposing on pursuing predators.
In yet another strategy, the mule deer may bound off and then trot away, stopping frequently to gain information on the disturbance. This initial bounding, combined with release of metatarsal scent that inhibits feeding, is highly advantageous in that, by alarming others, it causes other mule deer to bound off as well, reducing the conspicuousness of the deer who bounded off first. This strategy would also trigger group formation. Finally, when the predator closes in, the deer initiates evasive maneuvers based on sudden unpredictable changes in direction and on placing obstacles between itself and the predator. This strategy, however, does not work against group-hunting predators.
Lastly, mule deer are excellent swimmers, but water is rarely used as a means of escaping predators.