Wild Red Deer

red deer stag with antlers facing camera

Longshaw and the surrounding area, the Sheffield Moors, are host to a herd of about 170 red deer which roam widely, with sightings as far away as Dore and Totley, Froggat and Calver, and the Burbage Valley.

The herd is completely wild, and as the largest land mammal in the UK they are a spectacular sight.  Stags  (males) are up to 130cm tall at the shoulder and can weigh up to 240kg.  Easily recognised by their magnificent antlers, in autumn males compete for females by roaring or bellowing, a sound that can be heard resonating across the moors. 

Hinds (females) are smaller and don’t have antlers.  They’re territorial and a large herd lives on Big Moor, which is where the stags head back to in September for the rut.

Red deer watching
group of stags with antlers peeping above heather and brush
Red deer watching

Rutting (mating) season usually starts in mid-September and runs until mid-October.  Males compete for females by roaring, or bellowing.  If roaring isn’t enough to decide who’s the dominant male, stags will size each other up with ‘parallel walking’ and if they are equally matched a full blown fight can break out.  Fighting involves chasing each other and battling with the antlers. 

Stag at Longshaw
stag with antlers in golden morning sunlight and dewy grass and mist
Stag at Longshaw

The winner of these competitions is rewarded with a harem of females with whom they breed.  The older and younger males live on the periphery of the group. Mature males in peak breeding condition are around 8 years old.  A walk along White Edge is often rewarded at this time of year with a sighting. 

If you'd like to take part in a red deer event this Autumn, vist the Eastern moors website for information: http://www.visit-eastern-moors.org.uk/plan-your-visit/