At the moment we are in the middle of the red deer rut. It began last Wednesday morning when I first heard, and then saw, a young stag with a small group of hinds cavorting in the early morning mist in the field behind the cows.
That evening the roars from numerous stags ricocheted around the farm, the air electric with sexual tension affecting not just the deer but other wildlife, the stock and the dogs too!
Cows could be heard bawling hoarsely across fields in response to the stags’ invitation; dogs were accompanying the ever more frenzied and persistent roars with monotonous barking and tuneless howls.
Owls joined in the night time commotion, increasing the volume and repetition of their calls and a vixen’s bark echoed eerily up from the copse.
Sheep, of course, are looking and behaving in a self-satisfyingly smug way; languidly rubbing themselves up against gateways and saucily wagging lemon yellow backsides with long sideways looks. Heaven forbid that I’m being anthropomorphic!
Having come across several stags dripping with testosterone, high stepping and displaying to their skittish harems on a walk yesterday I’d moved away from the where the majority of activity was taking place and was absentmindedly enjoying the autumnal day, dogs careering about, when a movement caught my eye through some trees. There, grazing peacefully, were two red deer hinds and their calves, seemingly indifferent to the frantic activity taking place not a million miles away.
Somehow I managed to move close enough to them so the lack of super camera with mega zoom didn’t matter. Somehow I communicated silence and stillness to the dogs with weird facial grimaces. Somehow the fact that four potential predators were standing within a hundred yards of them went unnoticed. And this is the result…