Two deer spar with each other in a common dominance behavior in this trail camera photo. Credit: Courtesy of Doug McGinley

Combat among animals is nothing new. Sometimes, the battles are a life-and-death affair, between a predator and its desperate prey. Other times, a territorial fight takes place when one critter tries to drive away another of its own kind.

And we’ve certainly seen our share of male deer jousting with rivals in the months since we began sharing reader-submitted trail camera photos and videos.

Today’s contribution is something new, though. Doug McGinley sent in some trail camera pics from east Alabama, including this shot of two female deer engaging in some good, old-fashioned fisticuffs.

That’s what it looked like to me, at least. The photo reminds me of the old Looney Tunes cartoon featuring the boxing kangaroo.

I reached out to Nathan Bieber, the deer biologist for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to get his take on the action. And as always, Bieber had some interesting thoughts to share.

“I’ll go with a chicken analogy since we just started raising chickens,” Bieber said. “We’ve got four hens, and there’s clearly a boss lady hen that the others don’t mess with. The other three often peck at each other and make little charges at each other. They’re just sorting out where they sit in the pecking order.”

And that, Bieber said, is what we’re seeing in the photo.

“[It’s] similar with deer. Does will rear up and kick their feet. Often they’ll just rise up and kick without making contact, but sometimes they’ll get in some serious scuffles,” Bieber said. “Bucks obviously do their own thing in the fall to assert their place on the social ladder using their antlers to fight. Lacking antlers, does go with the kicks.”

Do you have a trail camera photo or video to share? Send it to and tell us “I consent to the BDN using my photo.” In order to prevent neighbors from stopping by to try to tag particularly large bucks, moose or bears, some identities and towns of origin may be omitted.

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John Holyoke

John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...