Locking antlers

Locking antlers

Two Red Stags engaging in a fierce mating battle in the rutting season.

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Red deer are ruminants, characterized by a four-chambered stomach.

The red deer is one of the largest deer species and the largest land mammal in the UK, they also inhabit most of Europe.


With males (stags) standing 107-137 cm at the shoulder and weighing 90-190 kg. Adult females (hinds) reach a height of 107-122 cm at the shoulder and weigh 63-120 kg. Deer on the open hill in Scotland are smaller than those in lowland English woodland.


The breeding season rutting, occurs from the end of September to November.

Stags return to the hind’s home range and compete for them by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance including bellowing, parallel walks and fighting.  Serious injury and death can result from fighting  between stags of similar size.  The dominant stag then ensures exclusive mating with the hinds.

Despite being sexually mature before their second birthday in productive woodland populations, only stags over five years old tend to mate.  In woodland populations hinds over one year old give birth to a single calf after an eight-month gestation, between mid-May to mid-July. Puberty may be delayed until three years old in hill hinds, which may give birth only once every two or three years.

Some Scottish hill populations suffer heavy infant mortality at and shortly after birth and during their first winter. Lifespan can be, exceptionally, up to 18 years.