Deep in the forests and deer parks all round the UK, tensions and testosterone levels are rising. It's time for the red deer rut. The rutting season is a period when the biggest and strongest male (stag) rounds up a group of females (hinds) for mating. Of course every other male deer has the same ambition, but there's only so many females to go around.
In order to maintain control over a group of females the dominant stag must constantly drive away rivals. The stag announces his superiority over other males by constantly bellowing out an echoing roar, which sounds something like a cross between a chainsaw and a burp. I guess if we had to shout for days on end like these guys do we'd end up making a similar noise.
Sometimes shouting is not enough, and when contenders approach the females they need to be chased off. Occasionally fights between males can break out, and this can lead to some serious clashing of those magnificent antlers
Red deer are our largest native land mammals. They can weigh up to 190kg. In fact they're one of only two native species of deer in the UK, the other being the Roe deer. You can find out more about them in this Key to British Land Mammals.
If you go to watch the rutting deer make sure you keep at a safe distance. If you take a dog be sure to keep it on a lead. You definitely DON'T want to get between the stag and his females. Those antlers are sharp, and getting charged by an angry stag can be bad for your health.
Be sure to check details before visiting. Some locations require permission for access and some require permits for photography. Deer parks are good locations to observe the rut as the deer are used to having people around them and it's often possible to get much closer than you would in more remote locations.
Richmond Park, Surrey
Bushey Park, Middlesex
Wildwood Trust, Kent
Bucklebury Farm Park, Berkshire
Ashton Court Estate, Somerset
Arlington Court, Devon
Calke Abbey, Derbyshire
Chatsworth Park, Derbyshire
Bradgate Park & Swithland Wood Country Park, Leicestershire
Tatton Park, Knutsford, Cheshire
Wollaton Park, Woolaton, Nottinghamshire
Fountains Abbey, North Yorkshire
Lyme Park, Disley, Cheshire
Jedforest Deer Park, Northumberland
Margam Country Park, Port Talbot
Beecraigs Country Park, West Lothian
Glengoulandie Deer Park, Perthshire
The Highland Wildlife Park, Inverness-shire
The Scottish Deer Centre, Fife
Isle of Jura, Argyllshire
Gosford Forest Park, County Armagh