Best places in the UK to see the autumn deer rut

The annual deer rut is one of Britain's most exciting autumn wildlife spectacles – find out where you can see these magnificent animals in action with our pick of the UK's best deer rutting destinations

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Here is our guide on the best locations in Britain to see the autumn deer rut – just stand well back!

The deer rutting season is one of the great wildlife spectacles. This is the time that male deers, known as stags or bucks, fight over females by fighting with each other or rubbing their antlers on trees. They will also herd the female deer, known as a doe or a hind together. 

How long does the rutting season last?

In the UK the deer rutting season usually takes places in October and lasts between seven to ten days.

Best places to see the autumn deer rut

1

New Forest, Hampshire

All six of the UK’s deer species found in the wild have been spotted in the southern oasis of the New Forest. Be sure to catch the fearsome action this autumn, watching these great creatures lock antlers at renowned rutting grounds that date back as far as a century.

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Roe deer in wheat field
Roe deer doe standing in the middle of line in the wheat. (Getty)

Buttermere autumn

2

Lyme Park, Cheshire

This park in the heart of Cheshire is ancient hunting area brimming with red and fallow deer. The Lyme Park wardens have set out a fantastic walk through the grounds, perfect for discovering the annual rut.

3

Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries and Galloway

Galloway is bursting with red deer, the largest of our UK species. Catch a sight of the roaring stags at the Red Deer Range. The visitor centres at Kirroughtree, Glentrool and Clatteringshaws will advise on the best and safest routes to follow.

Red Deer, Deer, Cervus elaphus - Rut time.Red Deer, Deer, Cervus elaphus - Rut time. Fighting of two stags.
Red deer lock horns ©Getty
4

The Ashridge Estate, Hertfordshire

North of the Chilterns, this parkland is washed with golden hues in autumn. Home to roaming herds of fallow deer, it has many trails and walks geared towards wildlife watching, and also a great visitor centre that runs early morning walks to catch the stags in rut.

5

Margam Park, Glamorgan

Red, fallow and the lesser known Pere David deer are the roaming residents of this parkland near Port Talbot. Deer herd tours ranging across the 500-acre grounds are available from local experts, offering a first-hand encounter.

Fallow buck silhouetted against a foggy sunrise early in the autumn.
A fallow deer in morning fog ©Getty
6

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal, North Yorkshire

You’re sure to see some elaborate displays of superiority occurring in this deer park where 500 roam wild, as crisp autumnal leaves crunch underfoot. Park ranger Paul has mapped out a deer walk for visitors to enjoy this impressive autumn spectacle.

7

Eastern Moors, Peak District

The autumnal moorland may act as camouflage for the russet-coloured coats of the red deer, yet their rutting routine is hard to miss. Home to around 130 red deer, the exposed Peak District National Park is an ideal location for sighting stags in battle.

8

The Isle of Jura, Inner Hebrides

Anywhere in the Scottish Highlands makes for ideal viewing of the rut, but with the human population outnumbered 30 to 1 by their red deer co-habitants, an encounter with rutting stags is inevitable.

Stag photographed in Scotland during Autumn/Fall
A lone red deer stag on Jura in Scotland ©Getty
9

Minsmere, Suffolk

As the stags vie for supremacy, the RSPB reserve of Minsmere is offering a close-up view from one of their 4×4 safaris. This rutting ride (£155 per vehicle or £90 for members) provides the opportunity to get some impressive photos.

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What to do if you encounter a deer?

It is important to always give deer a wide berth as they can be unpredictable when they feel threatened. Male deer can be aggressive during rutting season so never approach too closely while a female deer will be protective of her young. If you encounter a wild deer it is best to slowly back away.