John H. from West Virginia writes about something he observed in winter. "I feed deer in the winter just to observe them. Several times this year, I observed adult does standing on their hind legs and kicking out at other deer … sort of in a boxing position. Obviously this is an aggressive response, but why does and not the bucks?"
Dr. Dave Samuel
Bucks do show aggression, and they fight other bucks. However, in the winter, deer tend to group in units, and an adult doe will be the dominant deer in most deer groups. At feeding sites in the winter there is a lot of competition. You’ll observe lots of aggressive behavior at that time, and one is the "flail," where does (and sometimes bucks without antlers), stand and strike at other deer with their front feet. Flailing rarely does any damage. It just tells other deer who is the dominant animal, and it’s usually an adult doe.
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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at email@example.com. Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for 31 years.