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 guide to the UK's best deer rutting destinations.
Here is our guide on the best locations in Britain to see the autumn deer rut - just stand well back!
What is the rutting season?
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 in the UK
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.
Lyme Park, Cheshire
The National Trust estate of Lyme Park is thronging with strutting deer fighting for domination within this ancient hunting park. With tree guards in place to protect the woods from being on the receiving end of their powerful antlers, these grounds are a perfect place to glimpse the rutting rivals.
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.
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.
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.
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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. There's a mapped deer walk for visitors to enjoy this impressive autumn spectacle.
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.
The Isle of Jura, Inner Hebrides
Anywhere in the Scottish Highlands makes for ideal viewing of the rut, but after visiting Jura since childhood I’m quite biased towards this particular island. With the population outnumbered 30 to 1 by their Red Deer co-habitants, an encounter with rutting stags is inevitable. Boasting stunning scenery and renowned local whiskey that is ideal for the dwindling temperatures, this is an excellent place to witness the autumn spectacle.
As the stags vie for supremacy, the RSPB reserve of Minsmere is offering a close-up view from one of their 4x4 safaris. This rutting ride (£155 per vehicle or £90 for members) provides the opportunity to get some impressive photos.
Exmoor National Park, Somerset
If the Scottish highlands are a wee bit too remote for you, Britain has many other rutting regions to enjoy. Exmoor National Park is home to Red, Fallow and Roe Deer so is a great place to observe the rut in action. A host of luxury safaris are on offer, including a coastal drive to Devon’s most northerly point.
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.