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The Battle of the Stags

Red Deer Stags Testing their Strength. Credit: Wild West

Red Deer Stags Testing their Strength. Credit: Wild West

October brings one of the most dramatic events in the wildlife calendar, the red deer rut and Wild Scotland member Wild West offers the perfect opportunity to see this awe-inspiring sight.  From late September, the hills and glens resound to the calls of roaring stags, a sound described as “a cross  between a chainsaw and a burp!” The calls are an attempt by the stags to establish their superiority over other stags, claiming the right to mate with a group of hinds (female deer).

Often the roaring alone is not enough to ward off rivals and a challenger will try to penetrate the group to mate with the hinds himself. This challenge is usually met by the dominant stag chasing off the would-be usurper.

Occasionally when two stags are very evenly matched a spectacular clash of antlers can occur, with both stags determinedly fighting for the right to the hinds. These clashes are usually short lived with no real damage done, although very occasionally they may end in serious injury or even death.

The stags shed their antlers in April, with a full new set re-growing by the end of August ready for the rut. In the wild the antlers rarely grow beyond 16 points (tines)  whilst in captivity or where they have easy access to good grazing they can grow much larger.

Whilst a stag cannot be accurately aged by its points, the general rule is the more points, the older the animal.  Stags are often named by the size of their antlers, with a 12 point stag being a Royal, 14 an Imperial and a 16 pointer is a Monarch.

Wild West run trips daily on demand throughout October to see the rut, when your experienced guide will give you an explanation of all the activity. For further information contact  Wild West on 0333 123 2820,  or visit their website

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