“Sons dis­place fa­thers, and brother fights brother”

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Discover -

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

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