Posted 10th Oct 2017
Lead image courtesy of © Jon Hawkins
The main event of the red deer year is the annual rut
Having spent the rest of the year quietly going about their year in single sex herds, autumn sees the dominant males rounding up their harem of females.
Younger males, and especially many of the females, have other ideas, and the result will be one of the most dramatic events in the wildlife calendar. Stags will be heard to let out a great moaning, belching roar, as the dominant male does his best to defend his hinds from the young pretenders, strutting back and forth, while tossing his antlers in an act of showmanship. For those who aren't intimidated by his bellowing and bravado, a battle will ensue. Stags will clash by linking antlers and shoving each other - it may look dramatic, but this is mostly for show - a ritualised fight with the aim of settling the dispute and sorting out who's boss, instead of causing actual damage.
The roaring and bellowing of the largest land mammal will certainly leave a lasting impression.
How to do it
Early morning is a great time to see males performing, with the low, golden light and cold, dewy air creating the perfect autumnal atmosphere, especially helpful for photographers.
The nature reserve at Blacka Moor in Sheffield is a stunning mosaic of habitats which are home to many marvellous species. The most loved and photographed are the red deer that roam the reserve - sometimes secretive, sometimes surprisingly and delightfully bold. If you visit in the autumn during rutting season, you could very well hear their mating calls bellowing out across the woods and moorlands, or even catch a glimpse of the majestic stags as they battle for supremacy.
Derbyshire, Hillbridge and Park Wood
Highlands, Ben Mor Coigach
Highlands, Rahoy Hills
Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts