Where to see red deer rut
The autumn marks the main event of the year for our largest land mammal, the red deer; it’s mating season. Having spent the rest of the year in single sex herds, the annual rut sees the dominant male rounding up his harem of females. Younger males, and indeed many of the females, have other ideas, and the result is one of the most dramatic events in the wildlife calendar. Stags roaring, heads tossing, and antlers clashing; battle ensues.
The roaring and bellowing of our largest land mammal leaves a lasting impression
Find a red deer rut near you
The nature reserve at Blacka Moor in Sheffield is a stunning mosaic of habitats home to many marvellous species. Probably the most loved and photographed are the red deer that roam the reserve - sometimes secretive, sometimes delightfully bold. If you visit in the autumn during rutting season you may well hear their mating calls bellowing out across the woods and moorlands or even catch a glimpse of the majestic stags as they battle each other for supremacy. Elsewhere you can see red deer at our reserves in:
What to look for
Stags let out great roars as the dominant male does his best to defend his hinds (mature female red deer) from young pretenders, strutting back and forth, tossing his antlers in an act of showmanship. Battle ensues with those not intimidated by his bellowing and bravado. Stags clash, linking antlers and shoving each other. It may look dramatic, but this is a ritualised fight, with the aim of settling the dispute and sorting out who’s boss, rather than inflicting damage.
Early morning is a great time to try to see males performing, as the low, golden light and cold, dewy air creates the perfect autumnal atmosphere, particularly for photographers.
If you can’t get to these places
There is a great clip of the red deer rut on the BBC Autumnwatch website and you can download a red deer ringtone from our Wildlife Watch website. Londoners are lucky to have red deer roaming Richmond Park – coming across a well-camouflaged herd amid the bracken on a misty morning while the rest of the capital is stuck in rush-hour is a heartwarming sight. But beware - keep your distance!
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