Rut and roll is a mag­nif­i­cent spec­ta­cle . . .

Middleton Guardian - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

IT was first light, and the wind in my face, as I reached a clear­ing in the wood, it felt ex­actly the same as it did when I was twenty.

Re­fresh­ing and sur­pris­ing, a bit like when you breathe out af­ter brush­ing your teeth with minty tooth­paste, herald­ing bright light and a dis­tant view to some other wild place and hold­ing prom­ise of more wild crea­tures.

The only thing dif­fer­ent is that, I now know not to break cover too quick, it’s the same when you reach a sky­line, so I care­fully peered in both di­rec­tions from be­hind a tree to spot the Edglings.

The crea­tures only come out of the woods when it is safe to do so, and mine was just emerg­ing with steam pour­ing from his nos­trils and fire in his belly, he, was a red deer stag, and it was time to rut and roll.

The dra­matic spar­ring and bel­low­ing when two stags meet, is an an­cient joust, a time­less cer­e­mony en­acted each year, and I was ea­ger to watch an­other bout. The stag’s pose and strut, stamp their feet, side up to each other, as­sess­ing their op­po­nent and at­tempt­ing to as­sert au­thor­ity. If nei­ther backs down, fights can fol­low with the stags ag­gres­sively lock­ing antlers to set­tle the mat­ter. They don’t re­ally want to hurt each other, just to prove a point and maybe even hope that the hinds are watch­ing!

The antlers are a real

RSPB

A pair of rut­ting stags

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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