Although a short season, the deer rut can be a highly exciting time for wildlife photographers. Both red and fallow deer participate in the annual rut each October, competing for the right to mate and hold a harem of hinds.
This spectacle often attracts photographers from far and wide, but there are a few things to always keep in mind to both achieve the best images possible along with not causing unnecessary disturbance to the wildlife.
Keep your distance
Whether working with deer in the wild or in a park, it’s always important to recognise that these are wild animals. Always stay far back, using your longest lens to get closer to the action.
With testosterone at an all-time high during the rut season, stags can be unpredictable and can react aggressively if they perceive a threat or challenge.
Prepare for the images you want
If you’re after a fight shot, standing in the middle of tall grass or bracken will probably not be the best option.
Visit the location regularly so you can find the best locations for various behaviours.
Do not harass or chase the Deer
If you keep your distance, usually the deer will be relatively relaxed and calm, allowing you to capture some great, natural images.
Should the deer be uncomfortable and move off away from you, it’s usually best to leave them be rather than chase them. I’ve personally witnessed people harassing deer to the point of pushing a stag into an adjacent harem and stag, causing a large fight that may not have occurred otherwise.
Use the Golden hours
Deer are often most active in the early morning, but have a peak of activity towards the end of the day too.
Paired with golden light, this is the best time to capture those stunning images.
Deer are one of the most heavily photographed species within the UK, so it’s no surprise that there are many thousands of images out there. Don’t be afraid to be creative and try and capture something new or unique.