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RED DEER - Cervus elaphus


It’s the undisputed Monarch of the Glen - the largest of all Britain’s land mammals - and awesome when stags are in full roar during the autumn mating time or ‘rut’. There are large numbers of red deer in Scotland - a problem for re-growth of native woods, but a bonus for watchers who like to see the herds.

Red deer eat mainly grasses and dwarf schrubs. Stags certainly make very loud and instinctive sounds, roaring and bellowing at each other, especially during the rutting season when they are asserting their strength in the herd. 

The rutting, or mating, season begins in mid September and continues through to late October. Females, or hinds, usually give birth to single calves from late May to June the following year.  

Stags’ antlers are multi-branched (some much more than others). They shed and re-grow them in summer before the rut. Females - ‘hinds’ - have none. 

Winter can be good for deer watching, since herds will seek lower grazings in bad weather.  Listen for autumn roars as a pointer to red deer location in the hills.  Some roads give good routes and wide views across prime red deer ground. Try the minor road from Braemar to Inverey and Mar Lodge, the A9 at the Pass of Drummochter (use the big lay-bys) and the A897 near Forsinard in Sutherland. Take great care if driving in red deer country at night, both for your own and the deer’s sake.