While it is not common interbreeding between whitetail deer and mule deer do occur in places where their ranges overlap. Most of the hybrids that happen in the wild go unnoticed, but occasionally a hunter stumbles into one and we get to see these animals up close.
Hunter Jon Collins posted his kill on Facebook showing him with one of these rare creatures. It shared the qualities of both species and is truly a unique animal.
Here is his description of the deer:
How about a Whitetail-Mule deer hybrid! Pretty cool animal right here. This buck has mule deer type forked antlers and big ears, but the rest of its head and face has whitetail characteristics. The tail looked just like a whitetails as far as shape/size but had dark brown/black coloring on the backside.
The deer pictured defiantly has the ears of a muley, but that face is pure whitetail. I wish we had more pictures of the other mixed characteristics, hopefully more will come out later.
Deer and Deer Hunting publish an article detailing the biology behind this type of hybrid. One interesting fact they mentioned is that males are usually sterile but females are able to produce offspring with either species.
Also, they mentioned the reason many hybrids fail to make it in the wild is due to both animals having completely different predator avoidance techniques. Whitetails rely on speed while mule deer bound like a pogo stick, called “strotting.” Hybrids do not inherit the ability to strot and they end up jumping around in confusion making them easier for predators to kill.
If you are interested in more information about hybrids definitely check out the article I linked above. There is a lot of good information there.