Red Deer

Red deer are Scotland’s largest surviving native wild land mammal. They have a body size a little smaller than a domestic donkey. Males are called stags and have antlers up to a metre long. These branch-like horns drop off in the spring and are grown again in the summer ready for the autumn rut, or breeding season. Stags live in small wandering groups, except during the rut when they become solitary and fight other stags for the control of a hind herd.

Females are called hinds and they live in herds led by matriachs. Each hind herd spends their whole lives in one area and know it very well. The hinds give birth to single calves which have white spots, during May and June.

Photo Credit: Wild West

Early summer is the best time to watch hinds and calves, as within the herd they are highly sociable. Red deer are more active during the morning and evening but can be seen more often during the long daylight hours of summer. The best time to see stags is during the autumn rut and they are more active in cold weather and rain, wallowing in mud, roaring and fighting other stags.

Red deer are still found by the thousands in upland forests and moorlands throughout Scotland.

Most of the land on which red deer are found is privately owned and the deer are managed to provide an income from stalking and shooting stags as trophies. The hinds are hunted during the winter by estate keepers and the venison is sold for human consumption. Because there are no large predators now living in Scotland it is essential to shoot red deer to control their numbers.

Roe deer

Roe deer

Capreolus capreolus

Roe deer have a body size a little smaller than a labrador dog, but with long graceful legs. Males are called bucks and have short straight antlers. These horns drop off in the winter and are grown again by the end of the spring, ready for the August rut...