New Forest Red deer images taken at various times of the year. The Red, together with the Roe, are our only truly native British deer. The Red deer is also our largest wild land mammal and is quite a majestic animal, holding its head aloof as it struts arrogantly around its chosen area. There are less than 200 resident in the New Forest and during their annual autumnal rut, large stags start to arrive from outside the immediate Forest area. A dominant stag collects together as many hinds (females) as he can without losing them to competing stags this is know as his hind harem. Because of the limited numbers of large mature stags on the New Forest, fights between them are not a common sight and I have never managed to photograph one!
They are capable of travelling large distances making them quite elusive to phograph at certain times of the year. However, during the rut the stag’s roar can be heard over long distances giving their presence away.
Unfortunately, in recent years their numbers on the traditional rutting grounds have declined following pressure by photographers who get too close and disturb them. I try to restrict myself to only two or three photo expeditions during the rut and by using a long 500mm telephoto lens, keeping cover and not getting too close I’m generally rewarded with some good shots without disturbing them. All too often people are seen getting to close causing disturbance and driving the deer off their chosen rutting grounds. Continual disturbance by “photographers” with less than adequate cameras (or even smart phones!) and dressed in bright clothing is creating great harm to this autumn spectacle. REMEMBER, at this time of year the stags are fuelled with testosterone and quite fearless. If they find themselves being closed in or cornered, they can suddendly charge if anyone foolishly gets too close. They are more than capable of inflicting serious injury.
In the New Forest all deer on Crown land are managed by Forestry England who undertake patrols during the red deer rut to ensure disturbance is kept to a minimum.
Click here for more information on Red Deer in the New Forest