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Strut of the Rut

Late September to early November is when strange sounds emanate from the hills and woodlands. It begins with antler to antler clacks of practice sparing before curt grunts turn to bellowing roars. It is time for the annual deer rut.

A magnificent red deer stag in full rut grandeur

A female Sika. They often see you before you see them!

Native red deer (fia rua) are largely restricted to upland areas of the Iveragh while the introduced sika deer (fiaseapánach) are more widespread on the peninsula. Sika bucks produce a high-pitched descending squeal while a red stag roar is a declaration that carries far on the air. The roar of a stag sounds a message to other males to convey their intentions or announce their size.

If two stags decide their bellows are equal they will then walk side by side - a step to determine if they are similar in stature. If these two measures still do not decide the matter it is time for the last resort - a fight! Fights are risky as injuries can be sustained and fatal wounds can occur. The victor gains access to the females in the herd while the loser must lick his wounds and search for a new opponent. By late November, the rut abates and a truce descends for another year.

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