If you think 21st century dating is difficult, step into the hooves of Tatton Park’s deer.
Autumn marks the beginning of the highly competitive mating season, known as ‘the rut’. Competing for fair ladies’ hooves are scores of posturing male Red and Fallow deer – every one of them desperate to avoid the lonely harts’ club.
The rutting season is triggered by the shorter daylight hours and cooler weather. Tatton Park is one of the best places in the UK to witness this spectacular event. A deer park since 1290, Tatton is now home to more than 400 deer roaming freely within 1,000 acres of parkland.
The drama of the autumn deer rut reaches its height in the antler-clashing battles between the males. Phil Lucas, park manager, said “You cannot fail to be impressed by the sheer power and beauty of two stags in battle as muscle and antler is used to the utmost to prove the superior strength, experience and determination, before one roars in magnificent victory at his fleeing opponent.”
The preparations for the rut start in August, when the male deer ‘fray’ the velvet off their hardened antlers by rubbing them on trees and branches. Their necks also begin to swell and thicken, strengthening them for potential clashes with other male ‘suitors’.