Mule Deer Pulls Off Slick Escape From Coyotes by Hiding in Herd of Bison

by Megan Molseed
(Getty Images/Utah-based Photographer Ryan Houston)

Animal instinct is an amazing thing. It’s not uncommon to hear of or witness some fast-thinking moves in the wild animal kingdom. And, one recent video exemplifies this perfectly as the clip shares a uniquely creative tactic applied by a mule deer escaping a hungry coyote in the most unusual way.

When Katie LaSalle-Lowery stopped her Jeep while driving through Yellowstone National Park recently, she had no idea the sight she was about to witness. The wildlife photographer had noticed a herd of bison traveling in the hills and she was hoping to catch a wild stampede. However, what she got was even more impressive.

As the video unfolds, we see the herd of bison as they advance across the hilly field. However, soon we notice someone else in the mix … a mule deer doe running and jumping among the bison. Then, we see what prompted this mule deer to run into the mass of humongous mammals. A coyote comes running into the clearing, chasing the deer. However, this predator comes to a very quick halt as soon as it sees the crowd with which the mule deer is hanging out now.

Mule Deer Employs ‘Very Interesting Survival Tactic’ Hiding Among Herd of Bison

According to LaSalle-Lowery, she was inspired to drive through this area in the popular national park after the area reopened just a few days ago following devastating flooding that hit the area this summer.

“The floods in June reduced access dramatically,” LaSalle Lowery notes.

“The Northeast Entrance Road going through the Lamar Valley opened for the first time on Saturday,” the nature photographer relates. “So I made a trip to the park and a return to the Lamar and see the changes to the riverbed and roads.”

According to the woman, she had driven up Slough Creek around the area’s campgrounds and trailheads when she spotted the herd of bison that was on the move, “occasionally stampeding.”

LaSalle-Lowery recalls how a “few people nearby remarked upon the mule deer.” And, she says, she originally thought it was a wolf chasing the fleeing animal. However, the photographer notes it soon became apparent that the animal wasn’t a wolf, but a hungry coyote.

“I thought it was a very interesting survival tactic,” she says of the wild footage. “For a mule deer to run into the herd of bison, which obviously stopped a single coyote in its tracks.”

LaSalle-Lowery adds that the coyote stayed far away from the bison, despite being stuck in the area as the bison moved through. A situation that “could have ended badly” for the coyote LaSalle-Lowery notes. However, the animal “kept his head down and didn’t put himself in harm’s way,” she says. “Circumstances can change very quickly when bison are on the move.”