The deer rut at Petworth House and Park

A fallow deer stag walks across grassland in Petworth Park as the sun shines through a tree in the distance

The deer rut is one of nature's greatest scenes. Every autumn the young males or bucks compete in order to attract the most females by battling it out with their antlers. It's certainly a sight to behold and one you can observe from a safe distance here at Petworth.

The hierarchy of the herd

The rut is an autumn ritual where young males engage in mating battles for top position amongst the herd to attract the most females for mating.

The clash

Leading up to the season before the visible clash of antlers begins you will often find the young males under horse chestnut trees eating as many of the fallen conkers as they can to bulk up before their shows of strength

Once the rutting season begins you will often see the bucks side by side assessing their rival before they turn head to head in a clash that can be heard for quite some distance as the bucks push each other back and forth with their antlers to see who is stronger.

What to look for

The different types of deer rut in different ways but for our fallow deer expect to see:

  • The most activity happening soon after dawn but carrying on throughout the day
  • The successful bucks forming a harem of several females, known as does.
  • The loser being chased away by the victor
  • The bucks resting in isolated areas after a rut to gather their strength.

Witness the rut

You can observe the rut at Petworth but it's best to watch from a safe distance with any dogs securely on a lead.

Deer rut guided walks

Autumn is the time of year when the fallow deer rut in the park. You can join a two hour guided walk to learn more about this species, what the rut is all about and observe seasonal behaviour, with the chance of watching rutting stags. We recommend bringing binoculars, and there will be an element of hiding and remaining silent. Walks are £5 per person, children free. Mon 18, Wed 20, Fri 22, Mon 25, Wed 27 & Fri 29 October, 10.30am-12.30pm. Booking essential.

Click here to book