Red Deer Season

Driving to Exmoor my thoughts are given to my quirky favourite things about the area at this time of year. The random change to autumn colours and leaves rising and falling in the wake of vehicles ahead of me. Pheasants and Red-Legged Partridge everywhere, roaming around in large packs, owning the roads and stopping traffic as do the local sheep. Also the hope of hearing a Red Deer stag bolving, it being the time of the rut and I was lucky enough to witness this popular Exmoor attraction very recently.

In an effort to see Red Deer I generally head to the area around Cloutsham Gate looking towards lower Dunkery. There were a good number of vehicles and walkers out and about so few deer on the hill. However, looking across Cloutsham Farm pastures, there were three separate groups of deer in three adjoining fields amongst the owners sheep and cattle. I spent some time listening to the bolving and setting up my kit. In the field with the largest group of a big stag with nineteen hinds, a small group of sheep started running together away to a far area and a stag appeared from a neighbouring field to challenge the larger stag. After just a stand-off rather than a fight, the smaller stag retreated back to his fifteen hinds seemingly content with his lot after all. The other stag in the third field didn’t make a move in the time I was watching, to try to boost his eight hind following.

That was the best I have witnessed of the Exmoor rut to date so I moved on feeling rather chuffed. Later I took a walk around Webbers Post to look and listen across the valley. Being a bright clear day, I could hear a stag in the distance. With the binoculars I found it pursuing a hind for some time backwards and forwards until they both were out of my sight and behind the hill. Before leaving an Exmoor pony with her late summer foal close at heel, came out of the trees to graze and make a good day even better. As always I then stopped off at The Exmoor White Horse for a well deserved meal.

Sherryl Woods ………………… 26th  October 2015


Written by Peter