The Red Deer, that lives on the open mountains and moorlands of Scotland, is Britain’s largest wild animal, standing 4ft high at the shoulder. Red deer meat, or Venison, is becoming increasingly popular, the demand for which is being partly met by farmed Deer.
The wild female deer, or hind, bears one calf in early summer, for which remains with its mother for at least 2 winters before joining a group, or herd, of its own sex. The sexes live separately except during rutting season which runs from mid September to late October, when the male deer, or stags, will attempt to gather groups of hinds by aggressive roaring and fighting, using their body weight and antlers. These antlers are an annual growth, and their size, and the number of points, vary from year to year. A stag with twelve points is known as a “Royal” and will reach his prime at about six or seven years old.
Hunting the Red Deer
Red deer are agile and graceful, with phenomenally keen smell and hearing. They were once hunted by bears and wolves, but today have no natural predators. This has led to a rapid increase in numbers and deer stalking (always popular activity, especially in Victorian times) has become big business in the region. Whatever your view on blood sports, it’s certainly arguable that the existence of a healthy and stable deer population is of great ecological importance to the Highland region; and the economic benefits can hardly be overstated. Many forests have now been re-designed to stop the deer eating young trees by erecting fences around the forest areas, this will not control the amount of deer in Scotland but will help preserve the forest, it is a fine balance to restore a balance between the environment and the Red Deer and occasionally culling will take place, the weakest and old and sick Deer will be culled first, this will help the rest of the herd to stay healthy and survive.
Where will I find Red Deer
When you are on holiday in Scotland, and are lucky enough to spot a red deer, take a close look and you will see its outstanding beauty, The largest herds of Red Deer can be seen in open moorland, and during the winter the will move to lower ground into forest and woods to take shelter from the harsh Scottish winter. The hinds will live in large groups to protect them from predators, young calves are sometimes killed by Golden Eagles or even foxes, the only predator to a fully grown deer in Scotland are humans, the wolf was once the main threat to the Red Deer but these become extinct over 200 years ago. During the autumn the stags will move closer to the hinds for the breeding season, this is when the strongest stag will win the prize to mate with up to 20 hinds.