Red deer are our largest mammal in the UK. Stags weigh anything from 90 – 190kg with females 63 – 120kg. The number of branches on antlers increases with age. Up to 16 points in native animals – who can live typically 18 years.
The breeding season, or rut, occurs from the end of September through to November. Stags return to the hinds home range and compete for access to hinds by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance, including roaring, parallel walks and fighting. Serious injury and death can result but fighting only occurs between stags of similar size that can not assess dominance by any of the other means. The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds.
Only stags over 5 years old tend to achieve mating despite being sexually mature much earlier (before their 2nd birthday in productive woodland populations). In woodland populations hinds over a year old give birth to a single calf after an 8 month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July each year.
Red deer are active throughout the 24 hour period but make more use of open spaces during the hours of darkness in populations experiencing frequent disturbance . Peak times of activity are at dawn and dusk.
Red deer are widespread throughout the UK, and can be found in many parks and in the wild. Bradgate Park in Leicestershire, Lyme Park in Cheshire, Tatton Park, Dunham Massey, and the Lake District. Also common in East Anglia, and the South West of England. In Scotland in the Scottish Highlands, Dumfriesshire.