November 1st, 2018
The majestic deer is one of Britain’s most iconic animals. These historic beasts with an air of elegance hark back to the days of kings and queens on their country estates. Deer would originally have been kept at manor houses and estates as reserves of game so that the owners and their associates could head out on hunting and shooting trips.
Deer parks were a popular addition to medieval country estates, and at their peak in the 14th century its thought that they covered 2% of the whole of England. They fell out of favour by the 18th and 19th centuries but a few do still remain scattered across the country. These days they are used less for the purpose of hunting and more for the enjoyment of visitors to the estates and parks, and for conservation and ecology.
There are six species of wild deer in the UK but only two of them are truly native – the red deer and the roe deer. The others, the fallow deer, sika deer, Reeve’s muntjac deer and the Chinese water deer are all exotic species.
Autumn is one of the best times to witness the annual deer “rutting” – fierce mating battles fought by the males. Rutting is triggered by the shorter days of autumn, so that the fawns are then born in the milder spring months. The rutting season literally occurs when the stags engage in savage battles with other males as they fight for the females. The fighting behaviour usually involves a lot of locking horns, chasing and aggressive, loud and high pitched fighting calls.
The deer rutting season really is a sight to behold and one of Mother Nature’s most interesting spectacles. In North Wales, one of the best places to spot wild deer is in the Coed y Brenin forest near Dolgellau. But they can also be found along the Llyn Peninsula and in the woodlands of Conwy and Denbighshire (like Clocaenog Forest).
*Remember, deer are wild animals so don’t get too close and keep dogs on a lead at all time.