WATCH: Two Black-Tailed Bucks Spar at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge

by Sean Griffin
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(Photo by: Dukas/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Mortal Kombat or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? In a recent Twitter post, the department referenced the iconic fighting video game series when it posted an intense video of two black-tailed bucks sparring at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge.

“FINISH HIM,” the caption wrote, which is one of the famous taglines from the video game franchise.

“It’s rut season for black-tailed deer!” the department continued. “These two were spotted in full *enter videogame name* mode at San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in CA.”

The caption also revealed when these occurrences most frequently occur around the park. “The best times to spot deer here: early mornings & shortly before sundown.”

In the intense standoff, the two bucks first size each other up while roaming in the tall grass. They near each other, circling, before one buck lowers its antlers. The other buck follows, and they continue their dance around each other. Then, after looking around and scoping the surroundings, the two bucks engage.

Their bodies contort and flail throughout the encounter, as both bucks try to establish leverage. They clash repeatedly, and it seems like the deer in the back of the frame may possess the upper hand in the battle.

The minute-long clip ends after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service truck pulls off, leaving the bucks to disengage their antlers. However, as the clip ends, it seems that the bucks were about to duke it out once more.

Their mating season runs from September through October. These bucks are most likely sparring to defend a female they are trying to pursue.

Officials say after the rut, bucks may be seen eating together to prepare for winter, so we’ll see if this pair will make up in the future. 

San Luis National Wildlife Refuge is Incredibly Biodiverse

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge resides in the San Joaquin Valley of central California. The reserve serves as a last remnant of a historically bountiful wintering grounds for migratory waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway.

The park lies within the Bear Creek, Salt Slough, and San Joaquin River floodplain. It hosts a plethora of tree-lined channels and oxbows, wetlands and native grasslands.

Thousands of acres of wetlands are fed by an intricate set of canals. They manage to produce natural food supplies for migratory waterfowl. San Luis also contains the most extensive network of pristine native grasslands, shrubs, and vernal pools still remaining within the Central Valley.

Thousands upon thousands of mallard, pintail, green-winged teal, and ring-necked ducks flock into these wetlands. However, the wood duck lives throughout the tree-lined channels.

Herons and egrets nest in oaks and willows and feed on the refuge’s abundant frog and crayfish populations. A wide range of songbirds, hawks, and owls also reside within the refuge habitat.

Hunting is allowed in the winter season on a portion of the refuge. San Luis National Wildlife Refuge also holds a herd of reintroduced endangered tule elk. This population remains the smallest subspecies of all American elks.

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