Aggressive Deer Behavior

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.

For a fine selection of Big Game Hunting gear, click here.

Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at 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.

Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.