My wife loves a visit to a stately home, especially one looked after by the National Trust, I suggested Knole House in Sevenoaks, with an ulterior motive in mind, a visit to this lovely stately home set in the grounds of one of Kent's last remaining deer parks, just so happens to coincide with the Fallow deer rut which is in full swing at this time of the year, the opportunity to witness the Bucks "strutting there stuff" was too good to miss.
I have never witnessed this annual event, not for the want of trying, I have visited Richmond Park, home of the more dramatic looking Red deer, I have heard the roar of the Red deer stag but that's as far as its gone, time to look at the Fallow deer.
So with the stately house visit out of the way, time to walk around the estate, we walked towards a wooded area where we could hear the roars and bellows of a Buck which sounded promising.
A short walk into the woodland and the Buck was there strutting around his hareem containing at least ten to fifteen does, another buck appeared, a clash of antlers and the buck was on its way chased by the hareem owner. my first "rut action" was over in seconds and no camera to record the event.
I decided to revisit the next day with my camera in the hope of capturing the event.
The weather was good, bright but chilly, I didn't arrive until midday and after making my way back to the woodland area we had visited the day before there didn't seem to be a lot happening, the buck was still guarding his hareem, but no other bucks decided to challenge him, all was very peaceful.
Fallow deer buck showing off his fine pair of palmated antlers.
I was surprised how well the spotted colouring of these fallow deer does, blends in well with the autumn leaf litter of the woodland floor.
I made my way back to the front of Knole house, and a rise at the back of the car park where I had seen a few Bucks resting under some Oak trees, unknown to me this rise is known as "Echo Mount" a notorious rutting stand, being one of the high points in the park.
I settled down on a fallen log under a nearby Oak tree, a good fifty yards away which I reckoned was a safe enough distance, I resigned myself to getting a few Buck portraits, there was a least four Bucks resting under the trees, with just one individual strutting around roaring and bellowing, the resting Bucks seemed content to let him get on with it.
Once again I thought I had missed the boat, that was until a female Doe appeared on the scene, probably attracted by the roars of the Buck, who proceeded to chase after her.
The resting Bucks sprung into action now that this Doe had arrived onto the scene, two of the Bucks started to parallel walk sizing each other up, it wasn't long before that inevitable clash occurred, what a sight, I couldn't believe it, right place, right time for a change.
|Buck demonstating his "goosestep"|
In the hour or so that I sat watching the "Stand" on Echo Mount I witnessed at least five clashes all initiated by the arrival of a female.
This was the second clash.
The third Clash
The first three clashes all involved the same two Bucks, another Buck decided to take his chance.
The Fifth clash !
And to the victor goes the spoils !
One of my best wildlife experiences albeit in a deer park, the telephoto lens certainly came into its own today, and those that chose to ignore the warning signs and venture to close, take heed !