The annual deer rut is a massive event in any wildlife photographer’s calendar. October ’til early November is the best time of year to watch our British deer as they participate in the rut, with the stags engaging in fierce and often fatal battles to exert their right to mate with the hinds. The three largest species of deer present in Britain; Red, Fallow, and Sika Deer all rut in the autumn. However of these, only the Reds are actually native to our country.
The conditions for this year’s rut were certainly less than ideal, and because of this I only managed to get out a handful of times, occasionally not managing to get a single usable photograph! Sometimes when you have these days it can be extremely disheartening, but as other wildlife photographers will know, it comes with the territory. You just have to pick yourself up and try and try again until you get the images you want.
On my first trip out the weather was horrible, with on and off rain and gloomy textureless skies. I did manage to get some images of the deer bellowing, but the dull conditions meant I had to really boost my ISO, which resulted in some very grainy images with unpleasant muted colours. This was a shame as I managed to get really close to a harem, to get some intimate portraits.
By my next trip conditions had improved somewhat, and whilst there was still no sign of the sun, it was at least bright enough to get a couple of better quality images with much warmer autumn colours.
By my final trip the weather had improved significantly and after an early start with lots of stumbling (and falling) around the moorland in the dark, I was rewarded with a stunning sunrise.
Although I didn’t capture anything usable of the actual rutting action (most of the time the challengers would simply run away rather than risk locking antlers with the dominant stag), I thoroughly enjoyed all the time I spent photographing these beautiful animals, and it means I can look forward to trying again next year!
Thanks for looking!