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Best places to see deer rutting

Red deer stags sparring during rutting, above Coalpit Clough on the Lyme Park Estate, Cheshire
Red deer stags sparring at Lyme Park, Cheshire | © National Trust Images/Nick Garbutt

One of nature's seasonal spectacles is the autumn deer rut, when male deer (stags or bucks) lock antlers in competition for female deer (hinds of foes). Here's our selection of the best places we look after where you experience the drama and noise of rutting season.

View with caution

Deer ruts are best viewed with binoculars from a safe distance. It's best to leave your dog at home, and please look out for any signs put up around parks where deer are cared for.

Best places to see deer ruts

Arlington Court, Devon  
Arlington Estate's picturesque grounds are the perfect habitat to protect the red deer that have made it their home. You'll be able to spot them in the autumn months, when the ruts take place, so make sure to watch from a safe distance.Visit Arlington
Belton House, Nottinghamshire
You can see fallow deer throughout the year in the park at Belton House. Take care to not disturb the deer and watch the deer rut from a safe distance in wooded areas of Belton.Visit Belton House
Calke Abbey, Derbyshire  
The park at Calke Abbey is a rich and varied landscape of grassland, ponds and wood pasture. As there are no public roads, you can have a peaceful walk to see if you can spot the resident deer herd.Visit Calke Abbey
Crom, County Fermanagh  
Crom is a great place to walk at any time of year, with a patchwork of islands, woodland and historic ruins. It’s also one of the UK's most important nature reserves and home to a herd of fallow deer, which can often be seen in the autumn months during rutting season.Visit Crom
Dinefwr, Camarthenshire  
Dinefwr is home to more than 80 fallow deer which graze the parkland. Visit in September or October for a chance to see the bucks during the autumnal rut. You'll also be following the path designed by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown in 1775 when he visited Dinefwr.Visit Dinefwr
Fallow deer stags at Petworth House and Park, West Sussex
Fallow deer stags at Petworth Hosue and Park, West Sussex | © National Trust Images/Adrian Holloway
Dunwich Heath, Suffolk
The autumn colours of Dunwich Heath are matched by the red deer that have settled there. Walk along the serene coastline and you might spot some as they compete in the annual rut.Visit Dunwich Heath
Holnicote, Exmoor
Horner Wood on the Holnicote Estate is a tranquil place for a stroll, especially in autumn when the leaves start to turn and the deer are preparing for their 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.Visit Holnicote
Lyme, Cheshire
Explore the less-visited areas of Lyme’s parkland where you can experience sweeping views across the countryside. You may also spot the resident herd of red deer, who usually spend their time in the east of the park.Visit Lyme
Petworth House and Park, West Sussex
See the view that inspired JMW Turner’s painting, Sunset, Fighting Bucks, complete with rutting deer. Petworth is home to between 700 and 800 deer, and there has been a herd at the park for over 500 years.Visit Petworth House
Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire
The deer park at Studley Royal dates back to medieval times and is still home to herds of deer today. Find out more about the different species of deer you can spot here, including red, fallow and sika deer.Visit Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden
Fallow deer in the parkland at Attingham Park, Shropshire
Fallow deer in the parkland at Attingham Park, Shropshire | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

Deer rutting season explained

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 to ward off their rivals.

They’ll put on lots 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 to 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 a challenge to each other. There can be fights when they lock antlers and physically challenge one another, which can be a sight to see.

Small girl running between conical topiary hedges in the Cherry Garden at Ham House

Where will you visit next?

Discover lots of gardens, historic houses, days out at the coast and more.

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