NATIONAL TRUST volunteer photographer Hugh Mothersole captured these atmospheric autumn views of groaning fallow deer bucks during the annual rut at the conservation charity’s Ashridge Estate, near Hemel Hempstead.
The deer rut at the Hertfordshire estate takes place over several weeks every October. During the rut male fallow deer (bucks) compete to impress the female deer (does). The does will mate with the buck whose voice, antlers and smell they find the most attractive. Large bucks of equal size will sometimes fight for the right to mate with the does.
Lawrence Trowbridge, National Trust Lead Ranger at the Ashridge Estate, said: “The eerie groans of Ashridge’s rutting fallow deer have been heard every October for centuries. Fallow deer have been here since the thirteenth century and they’re very much a part of the landscape.”
The rutting season at Ashridge is about to come to an end. However, deer can be seen at various National Trust places across the country, including at the historic deer parks at Knole in Kent and Lyme Park, near Manchester.
When watching deer care should be taken to avoid disturbing the animals – particularly younger fawns.
About fallow deer
- Fallow deer are believed to have been brought to Britain by the Normans.
- Although not truly native, they are naturalised and widespread in Britain. They are the country’s second largest deer species, the largest being the native red deer.
- Antler growth is unique to deer and they shed their antlers every year. A buck will grow his first pair of antlers at 2 years of age.
- Fallow deer grow very distinctive ‘palmate’ antlers. The antlers of a mature (7 year old) buck can be as big as an adult human arm.
- After the rut ends in October, the does can then expect to give birth to a single fawn the following June.
- Care should be taken when watching deer. People should avoid disturbing deer, particularly fawns.