Wild Red Deer

red deer stag with antlers facing camera

Longshaw, the surrounding area and 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. Discover more about these majestic creatures as they prepare for the rutting season.

Among other spectacular wildlife, the Eastern Moors and Longshaw are home to a completely wild herd of red deer, the largest land mammal in the UK. Easily recognised by their magnificent antlers, stags (males) weigh in at up to 240kg and stand 1.3m high at the shoulder. 

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

The autumn spectacle of the rut starts in mid-September and runs until mid-October. Males compete with each other for the choice of females to mate with. Their bellows can be heard resonating across the moors, and if the loudest roar doesn’t decide the dominant male, stags will size each other up with ‘parallel walking’. Equally matched males will occasionally lock antlers, aiming to use their massive strength to push the other male bodily out of their territory.

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.  Older and younger males often live on the periphery of the group hoping to mate with another stag’s females while he is otherwise occupied. Mature males in peak breeding condition are around 8 years old and can have a crown of antlers with up to 16 points, known as a “monarch”.

A walk along White Edge at this time is often rewarded of year with a sighting of these enigmatic animals. If you'd like to take part in a guided red deer event this Autumn, visit the Eastern moors website for information.