Epic Battles: The Largest Deer Ever vs. a Lion


Written by Kyle Glatz

Updated: August 10, 2023

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Lions are some of the deadliest mammals on the planet today. While they are rather effective at killing creatures in their range, it’s always fun to wonder how they would fare against animals from the past. For example, would a fight between the largest deer ever vs a lion favor the Irish elk or the king of the jungle?

That’s the question we’re going to answer for you. We’ll compare each animal against the other and determine which of them has the power and skill to take out the other!

Largest Deer Ever - Irish Elk

The Irish elk had massive antlers and is believed to have weighed up to 2,000 pounds.

©Daniel Eskridge/Shutterstock.com

Comparing the Largest Deer Ever and a Lion

Largest Deer EverLion
SizeWeight: roughly 1,500 pounds
Height: almost 7 feet at the shoulders
Length: from 9 feet to 10 feet 6 inches
Weight: from 260 to 550 pounds or slightly more
Height: from 3 to about 4 feet tall at the shoulder
Length: Between 4.7 and 8.2 feet
Speed– Could perhaps run up to 50 mph at its utmost– 35 mph most often
– Up to 40 to 50 mph when trying to bring down prey
Defenses– The elk’s large body would make it difficult to attack and take down
– Running speed could help this creature get away from attacks
– Had enough stamina to run for miles without stopping, even if not at full speed
– Lions often live in prides that protect them from outsiders
– A lion’s speed can help it outrun hyenas and other lions
– The lion’s imposing size makes many creatures fear them
Offensive Capabilities– Large rack of antlers that could measure up to 12 feet wide would be used to knock prey down
– Palmate antlers are not as effective at impaling animals
– Could stomp on or kick predators while escaping
– The lion’s bite force measures between 650 and 1,000 psi allowing them to deliver fatal bites to the neck and back of foes
– Their fangs measure between 2.5 and almost 4 inches
– Their sharp claws measure 1.5 inches long, and they can be used to deeply cut prey
– Can use raw power to smack prey
Predatory Behavior– Herbivorous creature that lacked predatory behaviors– Apex predators
– Often hunt in groups
– May hunt alone using ambush tactics or even cursorial hunting

What Are The Key Differences Between the Largest Deer Ever and a Lion?

The most significant differences between the largest deer ever and a lion can be found in their size and predation methods. The largest deer ever was a massive herbivore with an immense rack of antlers that stood almost 7 feet tall and weighed about 1,500 pounds, and lions are big cats that weigh up to 550 pounds, stand up to 4 feet tall at the shoulders, and hunt prey by ambush or cursorial predation.

These differences will serve as important touchstones for the fight. If this was a small animal, the battle would clearly favor the lion. However, the Irish elk is a very large creature, giving it a fair shot to successfully defend itself from the would-be aggressor. 

Lion showing teeth

Adult male lions can take down buffalo on their own


©Nejron Photo/Shutterstock.com

What Are the Key Factors in a Fight Between the Largest Deer Ever and a Lion?

The most significant factors in this fight are the size and offensive capabilities of both creatures. Much of this battle comes down to the ability of one animal to kill the other before getting too injured. However, that is not the only thing that matters in this battle. For example, we must evaluate the animals according to size, speed, and how each animal would respond to a fight.

We’ll examine five elements of these animals, compare them against the other, determine who has the advantage, and then use that data to inform our final winner. Let’s get started with the size of the animals!

Largest Deer Ever vs. Lion: Size

Irish elk

The genus name “Megaloceros” means” great


,” a reference to the deer’s massive antlers.

©Dima Moroz/Shutterstock.com

The largest deer ever was much bigger than any lion. These creatures are believed to have measured up to 7 feet tall and 10 feet 6 inches long while weighing an incredible 1,500 pounds. Lions are not so big, weighing only 260 to 550 pounds or a little more while standing between 3 and 4 feet tall.  

The Irish elk has the size advantage.

Largest Deer Ever vs. Lion: Speed

The largest deer ever was not a slow creature despite its large size. In fact, researchers believe that it could reach speeds of up to 50 mph at its utmost. However, lions only run about 35 mph normally. When closing in on their prey, though, they can reach speeds between 40 and 50 mph. That speed is only for short distances, though.

Both animals are tied in terms of maximum speed, but Irish elk are faster for longer durations.

Largest Deer Ever vs. Lion: Defenses

Lions rely on their size compared to other predators to keep them at bay. Yet, they also live in groups that help them ward off danger and use their speed to get away from unfavorable situations. The largest deer ever had a very large body, speed, and stamina to escape from predators. Given that they are extinct, that combination of factors did not always work out for them.

Still, Irish elk have the advantage in defenses.

Largest Deer Ever vs. Lion: Offensive Capabilities

Roaring male lion

Lions have the offensive advantage as apex predators.


The largest deer ever was not a weak animal that was incapable of defending itself. The Irish elk had massive palmate antlers that could measure as much as 12 feet across and weigh over 80 pounds! They could hypothetically use them to smash into predators. Moreover, their powerful legs could deliver a fatal kick to their pursuers.

Yet, lions are apex predators that are built to topple large animals. They have a bite force that measures up to 650 psi or even 1,000 psi. Their fangs measure between 2.5 and 4 inches in length, more than long enough to bite deeply into arteries, veins, and an animal’s windpipe. Moreover, they can break vertebrae by biting them.

Lions have sharp claws that they can use to gash prey, and they also have a powerful swipe that they can use to smack animals. Their combined attack is powerful alone and incredibly dangerous when used with groups of others.

Overall, the lions have an advantage in offensive capabilities.

Largest Deer Ever vs Lion: Predatory Behavior

Male Lion Roaring

Lions generally lie in ambush to await their prey or sprint after it to catch it

©Shawn Levin/Shutterstock.com

The largest deer ever has no predatory instincts or behaviors. Meanwhile, lions are powerful apex predators in their range. They use two methods of hunting. They can ambush a target and seek to bring it down in a few moments. Lions can also use cursorial hunting to attack a creature and bring it down after attacking it while chasing it down. That both tires out the creature and severely weakens it to lessen the lion’s chances of getting hurt when it moves in for the kill.  

Lions have an advantage in predatory behavior.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between the Largest Deer Ever and a Lion? 

lion roaring

The winner of the battle between a lion and an Irish elk would be the lion.


A lion would win a fight against the largest deer ever. We have to consider the largest prey that lions can take down on their own. In this case, adult male lions can take down buffalo on their own. Members of the infamous Mapogo coalition were famous for such feats.

Cape buffalo are far shorter than the Irish elk, but they can weigh a fair amount more. The height might seem like a problem, but we can’t discount the amazing jumping abilities of a lion. This fight would start with an ambush or a chase. The Irish elk’s instincts will tell it to flee against an aggressive predator, and that’s probably what it would do.

The lion could match its speed for a brief time, and when the lion catches the deer, the fight starts and then probably ends in a hurry. The lion could attack the underside of the Irish elk’s head, biting the neck and bringing the mighty creature to the earth. The Irish elk is strong, but not strong enough to fend off a 500-pound male lion dangling from its head and puncturing its neck with 4-inch fangs.

The Irish elk was not a fighter. It probably used its antlers to fight off other deer during mating season or to show off to females. This animal has a low chance of charging a lion and killing it since the big cat is fast, agile, and smart. All told, the lion gets a very large meal.  

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About the Author

Kyle Glatz is a writer at A-Z-Animals where his primary focus is on geography and mammals. Kyle has been writing for researching and writing about animals and numerous other topics for 10 years, and he holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Education from Rowan University. A resident of New Jersey, Kyle enjoys reading, writing, and playing video games.

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