Instructions for A Mule Deer Year

We have air conditioning to cool us down during the blistering summer months and heaters to protect against frigid winter storms, but mule deer don’t have these luxuries! Mule deer are roughing it out in the elements, with only their behaviors and unique adaptations to help them through. Do you think you could make it a whole year as a mule deer?

Mule deer gain fat during the summer months when there are many fresh, nutritious plants. They convert this food into fat, which they then use as fuel during the winter months, since there’s much less food during winter. So life for mule deer is a balancing act between gaining and losing fat!

It’s a delicate balancing act. Play the game to see if you could do it!

How to play?

Pre-game setup:

You start out with 10 fat tokens. Before you start, each player needs to decide whether they want to raise 0, 1, or 2 fawns. You need to split your 10 fat tokens between you (mom!) and any fawns you may have. If you or your fawns reach 0 fat tokens at some point in the game, then you’ll die!

During the game:

Overall, figure out how far you’ll move for that turn using the “Let’s move!” button, then move the hoofprint that many dots along the board. Once you arrive, draw a card from the stack in the lower left corner and learn whether you gain fat or lose fat tokens!
The rules are pretty simple, but there are some fun twists because of the biology of mule deer!

The twists!

  1. You only have 20 moves to make it from summer range (where you start), through your migration route, through winter, and back along your migration route to summer range. This is because mule deer don’t have infinite time either! Keep track of how many turns you’ve gone beneath the board.
  2. In the middle of the board, you get to choose which migratory route you take. Take a look at the landscape and make your choice. In this part of the game, the card stack doesn’t apply. Mule deer have to make decisions without knowing everything about an environment, and you will, too! Once you make your decision, figure out whether you gain or lose fat tokens using this cheat sheet.
  3. You have to take the same route in the spring. Mule deer do this, too, and take the same route in different seasons, year after year.
  4. You can’t gain fat during winter, you can only keep the same or lose fat. Winter is a hard time for mule deer, since there’s very little food available! Check out this cheat sheet to figure out how much fat you lose after each move in winter.

Cover page for mule deer year instructions.
Click here for printable instructions and some extra mule deer facts!
Geranium fat token
Mule deer gain fat by eating nutritious plants, like this geranium flower!