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A rare mule deer sighting near Alexandria

This photo of a mule deer was taken at Country Blossom Farm west of Alexandria recently. The young spike buck was seen by many people in the area but was recently killed after getting hit by a car on Highway 27 near the Lake Mary boat access. (Submitted photo)

Whitetail deer are prevalent around the Alexandria area, but Kevin Kotts of the Department of Natural Resources in Glenwood can think of only a couple of cases where a mule deer has been seen in the area. Now he can add another one to the list.

Alexandria's Jeff Klug sent a photo to the Echo Press Newspaper on Nov. 15 of a spike buck muley.

"We saw this photo last week, and it sure looks like a mule deer," Kotts wrote in an email to the Echo Press. "I guess a hybrid is always possible, but this deer has a mule deer tail and mule deer ears. Mule deer seem to have more of a gray color than the brown of whitetails."

The photo sent by Klug was taken at Country Blossom Farm just west of Alexandria. Klug lives in that area and says he saw the deer a couple times, always by itself.

Many others in the area had witnessed the deer too over the course of about a month as it became the talk of the area. Unfortunately for those who enjoyed spotting the deer, Klug recently sent another photo showing that the deer had died after getting hit by a car on Highway 27 near the public access on Lake Mary. This photo shows the deer up close with the gray coat and whiter face of a mule deer.

"It had been seen by I don't know how many people out here," Klug said. "I've never heard of them being here. I've heard of moose and seen moose tracks on my property a few years ago, but I've never seen a mule deer this far."

Mule deer are generally found in western North America. States like Montana and Wyoming are popular hunting destinations for the deer, while opportunities also exist in Minnesota's neighboring states of North and South Dakota.

Seeing mule deer in Minnesota is not unheard of, but it is certainly not a common occurrence in this portion of the state.

"In my work area, mule deer are very rare," Kotts said. "In the 1990s, I saw a small mule deer buck that was shot near Hancock. I've also heard of mule deer being taken in Traverse County near the South Dakota border, so seeing a mule deer in West Central Minnesota doesn't happen very often."

Kotts figures the deer probably moved here on its own in the wild and not from a game farm. The fact that it is a young buck also fits the mold of other big game species that sometimes wander outside of their normal home range.

"There doesn't appear to be any ear tags or other external markings on the deer," Kotts said. "We have occasional wild elk and moose pass through our work area, and these are almost always younger males."

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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