Autumn is the season to watch one of natures great spectacles … deer rutting. The first two weeks of October tend to be peak viewing with some of the UK’s largest mammals locking antlers in a head to head battle. The whole event is in pursue of females who often are only fertile for a day or two. Competition is fierce and it can get bloody but the prize is high as the male who comes out on top will mate with as many females as possible. Locally to me both Bradgate Park and Woolaton attract the photographic hordes although Bradgate is definitely the busier of the two. One obvious way to avoid the crowds is to go weekdays.
I have quite mixed views on this as at times the number of photographers and their behaviour can be detrimental to the well being of the deer herd. I know I am part of this but try to avoid the pack mentality that sometimes exists. In that respect I do try to observe the following …
Distance – do not get closer than 30m to the deer.
Disturbance – if the deer are lying down it is a good indication they are ruminating which is part of the deer’s digestion process. Try not to make the deer move as this upsets their digestion.
Pursuit – if the deer start to move away it is because they feel threatened please do not follow them as this causes stress similar to being chased.
Surrounding- please do not try to photograph from all side this hems the deer in leaving them no room for manoeuvre and resulting in a high level of stress comparable with being chased by a dog.
I would also add that the animals can be highly dangerous when agitated !!
The good thing is that todays zoom lenses allow you still to get some cracking photos without compromising the above.