Mule deer are remarkably faithful to the geographies they were raised in… until they’re not. Ungulate ecologist Rhiannon Jakopak from the Monteith Shop joins us to talk about the rose petal hypothesis, migration fidelity, rogue individuals, and more. Plus, the emotions of harvesting your first animal (slash ANY animal). 

  • 4:00 From vegetarianism to wildlife science to becoming a hunter with your sci-pals in tow
  • 6:00 Taking a life… you process it while you’re literally processing it. The complicated feelings are normal; they don’t need to go away
  • 12:00 Those hunting mentors who make you feel encouraged, not pressured
  • 14:00 A first-time mule deer harvest: Watching an individual deer for weeks before getting a shot on it at 28 yards…. and just like that, a life is changed
  • 17:00 Knowing your local mule deer as individuals… so much so that you recognize certain animals in friends’ harvest photos
  • 19:00 Transition from bow- to rifle-hunting… there’s a different feel to the hunt
  • 23:00 The Rose Petal Hypothesis – this idea that female deer establish home ranges that are adjacent to and overlapping those of the female parent and sisters in a manner that looks like the petals unfolding on a rose
  • 24:00 Mule deer have high fidelity (faithfulness to preferred geographies) and philopatry (those places near where they were born/reared)
  • 28:00 Because of high site fidelity/philopatry, mule deer are especially slow to fill habitat vacuums… if we inadvertently remove them from a landscape, it can take a long time for new deer to show up
  • 31:00 Combining knowledge from the science world with the place-based experience of hunters, ranchers, and other intimate land users
  • 32:00 Rogue deer do colonize new habitats! They completely buck the fidelity/philopatry pattern, especially with their winter range
  • 36:00 The first year of an animal’s life is crucial for establishing the behaviors that’ll govern behavior later on – rogue deer go rogue as yearlings
  • 39:00 Mule deer have generally low fawn survival… but they also typically have two fawns per year
  • 41:00 Scientist #facepalm: when all 50 collared fawns in your study die
  • 45:00 Why is it so fun to pick on bird people? Jokes aside, they have some SOLID science on taught vs. inherent migration
  • 48:00 Do relatively common species lose their mystique for us? Heck no. Next time you see a deer on the side of the highway, ask yourself how many mountain ranges it crossed in the past year
  • 52:00 Those big antlers on your buck? They’re a symbol of an intelligent species on healthy, connected habitat… be reverent, everyone!
  • 57:00 How do we tell compelling science stories?
  • 1:02 We’re in an unprecedented era of everyone caring how we communicate/reach each other
  • 1:06 The good news: Everyone cares about mule deer. The bad news: We disagree what’s going on with them
  • 1:08 Scientists as arbiters of information for policymakers
  • 1:13 UngulateCompendium.org – a place to get involved and be in the loop on new science; Also @Monteith.Shop on Insta