The Deer Rut 2015 by CHristopher Day

This year I decided to return to Bradgate Park for the deer rut-my first trip since 2012. I'd always come away with great photos in the past but this was my first time there with a mirrorless camera and my current kit didn't quite have the reach of my old DSLR kit. However I was packing an Olympus 40-150 pro and 1.4 converter on my EM5ii which gave me 420mm at f4 and superb optical quality so I was hopeful of decent shots.

My first trip there was planned based on a forecast for a clear early morning but they got that wrong as the morning was overcast. There was one dominant stag on the flat ground who gave a brief show but there was very little action and not a lot to see.

A week later I was back. The dawn was again cloudy but after an hour it cleared and mist rose from the ground to diffuse the sunlight and I was away...

This young red was my first subject. The light was just coming through the trees and the mist was rising.

and then the Fallows came into the clearing...

It took me ages to get a young fallow on its own-all too often I had the backside of another one in shot! Eventually this one posed beautifully for me.

Of course if one young fallow is good then three is better. These guys were watching a big fallow buck charging through the foreground out of shot.

Fallows can be a variety of colours from dappled though to predominantly dark brown like a Roe deer and some, like this little fella, can be almost white giving rise to the mediaeval 'magical white hart' legends.

There was very little fight action this year from the Reds. I spoke to a local guy who said that there are now only two really dominant deer in the area and they sorted out who was boss early on. The stand off below was as close as I got to locked antlers. Given that a mature stag can weigh up to 190kg (30 stone), and can charge at 30-40mph, not being up close to such an encounter didn't upset me too much though it's a hell of an adrenalin rush to see.

I got in one final session later in October but the deer were very quiet and I didn't get the same light conditions again. The two shots below were the best I could manage.Nonetheless I was really pleased with the images I got over this year's rut and I'm already looking forward to next year.

All images were shot at Bradgate Park, Newtown Linford, Leicestershire.

Created By
Chris Day
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