Deer rut rambles

One of nature’s most spectacular sights is the autumn deer rut. Pay a visit to some of our places to see the male deer (stags or bucks) compete for females (hinds or does). The drama and noise as they lock antlers is an unforgettable wildlife wonder.

The competition heats up for deer rut season

We spoke with Charles Harding, deer warden at Holnicote Estate. During deer rut season, he comes face-to-face with the action. He explains more about how you can also witness this spectacle, and discusses the finer details of what goes on.

What happens during a deer rut?

The stags round up the hinds and make sure everyone knows that they’re ‘theirs’. They try and make themselves look bigger to opponent stags by charging around, rolling on the ground and in mud – this is to ward off their rivals.

They’ll put on loads of weight to store up energy from August to September, but while the ruts are happening in October they won’t eat for a month as they put all their energy into winning as many hinds as they can.

What can we look out for?

You’ll see stags running back and forth, usually parallel to one another, bellowing out as a challenge to each other. There can be bust ups when they lock horns and physically challenge one another, which can be a sight to see.

Find your own deer rut ramble
A red deer stag

Arlington Court, Devon 

Arlington Estate's picturesque grounds make the perfect habitat to protect the red deer that have made this place their home. The deer can be spotted mostly in the autumn months, when the stags compete for the hinds in their annual rut. Witness this marvel of nature from a distance and take in the sights at Arlington.

Attingham's deer herd are descended from the orginal herd brought to Attingham by the second Lord Berwick in the 1700s
Walking trail

Attingham Park, Shropshire 

See if you can spot the deer rutting during this easy two-mile walk. Explore the changing colours of the orange-gold trees that mark the start of the woodland, and take in the views over the open landscape to the river.

Deer laying in long grass on the Calke estate
Walking trail

Calke Abbey, Derbyshire 

The park is a rich and varied landscape of grassland, ponds and wood pasture – one of the rarest habitats in Europe. There are no public roads at Calke so it's perfect for a peaceful walk to see if you can spot the resident deer herd.

Group of deer
Walking trail

Crom, County Fermanagh 

Crom is a beautiful place to walk at any time of year; a patchwork of water, islands, woodland and historic ruins. It’s also one of the UKs most important nature reserves, brimming over with everything from otters to pine martens. The estate is also home to a herd of fallow deer, which can often be seen in the autumn during the rutting season.

Fallow deer in woodland at Dinefwr, Carmarthenshire
Walking trail

Dinefwr, Camarthenshire 

As well as a herd of White Park Cattle, Dinefwr is also home to more than 100 fallow deer which graze the parkland. Pay a visit in September or October you may well see the stags battling each other during the annual rut and the path you'll follow was designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in 1775, when he visited Dinefwr.

Red Deer at Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk 

The crimson, autumnal hues of Dunwich Heath are matched by the fiery colours of the red deer that have settled here. Walk along the peaceful coastline, then spot some deer among the heath as they compete in the autumn deer rut.

Red deer stags sparring during rutting season

Holnicote, Exmoor 

Once a working landscape, the trees in Horner Wood would have been used to produce timber for fuel and tools, while the wood itself was grazed by livestock. Today it’s a tranquil place for a stroll, especially in autumn when the leaves begin to turn and the deer are preparing for the rut. Keep an eye out for muddy hollows along the way – these are deer wallows where the stags come for a spot of personal grooming.

Fallow Deer in Ickworth park
Walking trail

Ickworth, Suffolk 

Lownde Wood is one of the quietest and most remote parts of the Ickworth estate, which makes it a great place to spot deer. Take a stroll along the red trail during the autumn and you might just spot a few of these shy creatures among the trees, and maybe even hear the stags bellowing as the rut begins. You’ll also get to soak in the fiery autumnal colours of the surrounding trees

Deer in Knole Park, Kent

Knole, Kent

The whole family can enjoy our all-ability walk exploring the wildlife of Kent’s only remaining deer park at Knole, which has remained substantially unchanged since medieval times. The park has been home to the same fallow deer herd since at least the 15th century, and were joined by some Japanese sika deer in the 1890s.

Deer in front of The Cage at Lyme Park, House and Garden
Walking trail

Lyme Park, Cheshire 

During this walk you’ll be able to explore lesser-visited areas of Lyme’s parkland, and experience stunning views across the countryside. You may also spot the resident herd of red deer, who often spend their time in the east of the park.

Petworth House and Park deer
Walking trail

Petworth House and Park, West Sussex 

On this walk you can see the view that inspired Turner’s painting ‘Sunset, Fighting Bucks’, complete with the rutting deer. Petworth is famous for its extensive art collection made by George Wyndham, 3rd Earl of Egremont, containing many works by his friend J.M.W Turner.