“Sons displace fathers, and brother fights brother”
Says: Sam Hamer, West Dorset Living Landscapes Manager, Dorset Wildlife Trust “A crescendo is building out there amongst the woods, fields and moorland. Start early, treading quietly through golden light and soft mists, to catch a glimpse of one of the most dramatic events in the wildlife calendar. It’s difficult to imagine a more charged time than the deer rut. A growing clash of dominance and fertility, fuelled by the raw and powerful hormones governing the heart of the rutting season; all triggered by the changing daylight of autumn.
Males who’ve previously been allies now square up to each other. Sons displace fathers, and brother fights brother. They battle and jostle, bellowing, pawing the ground and shaking bracken laden antlers to intimidate opponents.
Our native red deer are the largest, loudest and most powerful of the stags; clashing antlers, pushing and shoving until one gives way. A victorious stag forms his harem with several female hinds. Smaller stags hang around, attempting to mate with females as dominant males lose their advantage, through injury or exhaustion.
For most of our UK deer species, the rut builds towards the height of the breeding season. It marks the journeying together of males and females, who for almost an entire year have been unable to tolerate the sight of each other.
Although a fantastic time to observe and photograph, watch safely with binoculars, from a long distance. These special animals are at their physical limits and adding additional stress can impact a herd for years to come. Please leave dogs at home.” WALK IT: For great places to see the rut go to www.wildlifetrusts.org/where_to_ see_red_deer_rut