Watch: Bobcat Takes Down Adult Mule Deer on Trail Camera

by Vern Evans

Trail camera footage of a bobcat attacking and killing a full-sized mule deer doe in West Texas recently surfaced on social media and illustrates just how effective of a predator the small cats can be. The video adds further proof to the theory that, while wild bobcats mostly target deer that are young, sick, starving, or otherwise easy to fight, they will sometimes take down healthy adult deer.

The original footage, which woodworker and park ranger Paul Hanson captured and posted to his Instagram last year, shows the bobcat latched onto the mule deer’s throat with its teeth and claws while the doe takes it for a wild ride. The bobcat gets thrashed around as the mule deer hurls its neck and body in protest. No matter how hard the deer fights, the bobcat doesn’t let go. Eventually, the deer stops fighting, but not before violently kicking its legs in the air, nearly bludgeoning the bobcat’s skull.

Research has long shown that bobcats will mostly target fawns but will also occasionally take down adult deer. While it’s impossible to tell from the footage whether this deer was healthy, sick, injured, or otherwise weakened, it is clearly an adult with enough fight to give the bobcat a hard time. Texas bobcats typically weigh between 12 and 20 pounds, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife.

In his caption, Hanson points out that the footage came from Franklin Mountains State Park in El Paso, Texas. A robust mule deer population lives in the western half of the Lone Star State. Numbers oscillate between 150,000 and 250,000 deer depending on time of year and resulting water availability, with the population dropping when dry conditions kick in. Up to 85 percent of Texas’ mule deer live in the Trans-Pecos region, which is the common name for the westernmost wing of the state.

Popular Instagram account Nature is Metal reposted Hanson’s footage on Sunday, sharing it with their 6 million followers. 

“Thanks for sharing,” Hanson commented on Nature is Metal’s post. “Of all the years setting out cams as a park Ranger this was top three for me for sure. Best part was a day after this attack [I] captured mama and two cubs on the same camera playing, true circle of life.”

The audio of the footage features both the mule deer’s cries and the bobcat’s snarling. This video and others that Nature is Metal posts serve as a fantastic reminder that the food chain in all its bloody, cutthroat glory plays out every day, whether humans witness it or not. This is also not the first time we’ve seen a bobcat take down a seemingly healthy adult mule deer. In 2020, Idaho hunter Will Hoffman captured footage of a bobcat sneaking up on a herd of grazing mule deer on a timbered hillside before jumping one and tumbling downhill with it.

Watch Next: A Bobcat Hunts a Rabbit on a Busy Golf Course

At 26,627 acres, Franklin Mountains State Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country. Despite it residing entirely within El Paso city limits, as Hanson says in his caption, that does not mean it’s not a wild place.

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