The annual deer rut

Two fallow bucks in the deer rut in parkland at Charlecote

The annual deer rut is quite the spectacle, one of nature's most majestic happenings and Dyrham Park is a great place to witness this.

Every October at Dyrham Park the bucks battle it out for the top spot of master buck. They divide their time between resting and fighting so don’t be surprised if you see bucks head to head in a rut or lying down around the park.

Battling bucks

The annual deer rut helps decide the hierarchy of the herd, with a master buck and the tougher bucks attracting the females to create next year’s fawns.

If you head to Dyrham Park in September, you may well see the bucks sitting under horse chestnut trees as they bulk feed on conkers in preparation for the rut. You’ll notice that they’re a lot more thick set around the neck and shoulders than they are earlier in the year.

Witness the rut

Rutting takes place throughout the day and into the night, though here at Dyrham Park, we tend to see it more in late afternoon.  

Lead Ranger Matt Baker said: 'You can hear the antlers clashing together from quite a distance. They’ll be facing each other off and going head to head with the antlers pushing each other back and forth to see who’s the strongest.'

'It’s best to watch it from a safe distance. When they’re rutting they’re very focussed on what they’re doing, completely unaware of what’s happening. When one loses, they run away as fast as possible in whatever direction and the victor will often chase to prove a point.'

'After the rut, they’re so tired they isolate themselves and rest – which is why you’ll see them sitting on their own in random places,' said Matt. 'You don’t need to worry about them, but if you think it’s something more serious you can always report your concerns to reception. The rangers do head out every morning to check them.'