Species / International Ovis

Columbia Blacktail Deer

Odocoileus hemionus columbianus


These deer are found in the Pacific Coast region of North America from Bella Bella and Bella Coola, British Columbia, in the north to Ragged Point, Monterey County, California, in the south.


A Columbia blacktail’s habits are similar to those of a mule deer. Blacktails living in low-lying forests without much snow will remain in one small area year-round. In mountain areas, they migrate the same as mule deer, spending summers in the high meadows and winters in sheltered valleys. Blacktails sometimes mingle with mule deer in summer range, but in fall will descend the western slopes while the mule deer descend the eastern slopes. Blacktails are browsers that eat very little grass. Sense of smell is paramount, although hearing is excellent and vision is good. When disturbed, blacktails tend to lie low or sneak away quietly instead of bounding off like a mule deer. Their main predator is the coyote, with the cougar next.

Super Ten®/Super Slam®: The SCI Record Book has established precise boundaries for the Columbia blacktail deer, and the Super Ten®/Super Slam® adhere to those boundaries… EXCEPT that Vancouver Island deer are considered as Sitka blacktails at present for the Super Ten®/Super Slam®. Columbia blacktails can be found in British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and California. Information found here contains excerpts from the on-line and printed version of Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals and is used by permission. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.


Mature Columbia blacktail deer bucks vary in body weight depending on habitat (and, to a lesser extent, genetics). Generally the weights are from about 150 to 200 pounds, but sometimes even larger. Females (does) are much smaller. A blacktail deer can be distinguished from a mule deer by its tail, metatarsal glands, overall coloration, face and antlers. A blacktail's tail is nearly as long as a mule deer's but is much wider, which makes it larger in comparison to the body. It is solid black on top except for a slight white fringe near the bottom, and the underside is white. (By comparison, a mule deer tail is narrow at the middle, tapering wider at top and bottom, and normally is white with a black tip, though sometimes the upper part will be brown.) The underside tail hairs are not erectile, and the tail is not used for signaling. The summer coat is similar to that of a mule deer, but the winter coat is redder, or a cedar brown. The blacktail's face is noticeably shorter and darker than a mule deer's, and the ears are smaller. The antlers are small, compact and relatively stout for their length, as befits a deer living in thick forest. Blacktails from drier, more open California habitat tend to have longer, wider antlers. Columbia blacktails often have only four points per side (including brow tines), like their Sitka blacktail cousins. However, they have five per side more often than the Sitka, but less often than the mule deer. In other words, it is not uncommon for a Columbia blacktail to have five typical points per side. It is uncommon for a Sitka blacktail to have five per side, and uncommon for a mule deer to have less than five per side, or at least four upper points per side.

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