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Photo: Sunlight finds deer in the shadow of El Capitan

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Iconic of the American West, mule deer can be seasonal migrators, but those who call Yosemite Valley home stay there year round; like these two beauties photographed in the sunlight by Rollie Rodriguez in the meadow at the base of the majestic El Capitan.

Mule deer are unique in their gait; a bounding bounce called "stotting." All four hooves push off the ground and land at the same time. With each hopping bound, they may jump as high as two feet and as far as 15 feet. While this makes them not quite as fast as their white-tailed cousins, they are more effective in navigating quickly through rugged terrain ... perfect for the lay of the land in their western homes.

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