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Derbyshire Moorland Red Deer Rut

At this time of year, my FB and Twitter pages are full of incredible photos of deer rutting; full frame images showing the impressive strength and majesty of stags pumped full of testosterone. Many, or in fact almost all, of the shots are taken in one of our many parks which give opportunities for very close encounters… in fact too close in many cases! Last week, the press was full of close encounters and even some cases where people have been attacked by stags. Seeing some of the images of people getting way too close to these huge and unpredictable stags means that this is by no means surprising.

I have photographed the deer in both Bushy and Richmond Park, but the huge numbers of people and their close proximity to the deer meant it was not an experience I enjoyed.

When a friend, Tim, mentioned he had been watching the deer up on the Derbyshire moorlands, I thought that sounded much more my kind of photography! Yesterday, with the weather not looking too bad, we headed up to the huge expanse of moorland…. somewhat different to a Richmond Park experience! For a start… where are the deer??!!

It was stunning up on the moors and, after several minutes with the binoculars, we spied several groups of hinds, most with one or two stags nearby. We headed closer, a steady walk across the heather, with the wind blowing toward us and the sound of the deer roaring carrying on the rising winds.

We crept within several hundred metres of one spectacular stag. I had my 7D 11, with my 100-400mm. They were still pretty small in the frame, but the moors were so spectacular, it seemed a shame not to have included them as part of the image. The moors were very much part of the image I wanted to capture. I found it quite exhilarating to see them in this huge expanse of wildness!

This one was one of my favourites…

The colours and textures varied greatly from rushy grasses, to heather and small trees to wind-blown bushes. I liked the stags appearing small within this landscape….

I also tried turning some shots to monochrome…

Below are my favourite images from the afternoon. I loved it up on the moors and the sound of those roars, carried on the wind, is something I won’t forget!

We headed back as the light was starting to fade… these two almost made it to the brow for a silhouette shot..

A big thank you to Tim for sharing the Derbyshire moorland red deer with me! 🙂


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