Ian and Bev took part in a ‘Deer Walk’ at Tatton on Wednesday. It really was very interesting and informative.
Tatton Park is 1000 acres and deer have lived in the parkland since 1290. The management of the 550 deer and over 800,000 visitors a year is quite an achievement for the Rangers, especially with the many large events that are held there. There are two species of deer living in the park, Red and Fallow Deer. Did you know that red male deer are ‘stags’, females ‘hinds’ and the young are called ‘calfs’? And that fallow males are ‘bucks’, females ‘does’ and young are ‘fawns’?
Red and fallow deer both rut in the autumn and are easy to watch in the park. From mid September to the end of October is the most exciting time of year to watch the deer as they engage in fierce battles to determine who gets to mate with the females. The red deer stags compete for them by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance including roaring, parallel walks and fighting. The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating rights and control of his harem which is usually between 30 and 50 hinds. All this can be a very stressful, tiring time – the stags do not get chance to eat and therefore eventually run out of energy. This is why we see lonesome stags – they are having a rest and licking their wounds.
The fallow bucks are the ones that we see in the raised areas of woodland – they have a ‘stand’, often under an oak tree and call the does to them.
Rutting activity is most intense soon after dawn, and at dusk though some activity occurs throughout the day. Deer are interesting to watch because their behaviour changes as the rut progresses.
We need to remember that male deer are pumped full of testosterone and highly aggressive; So the golden rule is don’t get too close. Unlike the man who was trying to get a selfie with his arm draped around a seated stag’s antlers!
Look out for dates next year as the walks get booked up very quickly.