A forest ranger once told me that too many people were crashing through the area and getting too close, looking to take that prize-winning photo. As a consequence, during the rutting season, the New Forest red deer had modified their natural behaviour of returning to their old ‘stands’ and now rutted ‘on the hoof’.
Link to Ranger Expeditions Fallow Deer Rut film.
It takes virtually no effort to find the deer, which will disappoint the tracking enthusiasts, but the real pleasure here is to sit and observe some phenomenal behaviours. During filming in 2011, with a long lens I hasten to add, I was treated to some epic battles of powerful bucks fighting for dominance of the lek. The Petworth deer are well managed and so without too much stress, generations of bucks have developed large antlers and seem generally bigger than their free roaming counterparts.
What a delight, she looked so healthy, in her prime, her summer coat bright red like a fox. Roe are widely distributed in the UK but are solitary or paired: A buck's territory overlapping with one or two females in their rutting season (July & August). Unlike red and fallow deer which are herd species. I had been extraordinarily lucky this evening for all the elements to come together and be carrying a camera to photograph this shy and flighty species of deer. With an inward smile, I retreated quietly back into the enveloping shadows of the yews.
Autumn has always felt like a special time. The crisp early morning and evening sunlight casting particulalry glorious golden and ochre hues. But the show was not yet over. As my thoughts turn to the spectacle of the red deer rut with time out on Big Moor and Chatsworth Park.
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