The early morning stillness today was punctuated by the roar of a stag announcing the rut is in full swing. The sound carried over the loch brings with it the certainness that Autumn is here.
The mature stags start to collect their harem of hinds towards the end of September, the rut occurs from then until November. They compete with other stags by engaging in elaborate displays of dominance which includes roaring, parallel walks and fighting.
On occasion the fights can result in serious injury or even death when two evenly matched stags of similar size cannot assess who is dominant by any of the other means. The dominant stag then ensures he has exclusive mating with the hinds.
An adult mature stag is 1.7-2.6m long, 1.2m tall at the shoulder and can weigh between 100-340kg. The average lifespan can be 16-18 years, however reed deer that live most of their lives out in the hills can suffer a higher rate of mortality. A stags impressive antlers can measure up to one metre in breadth and weigh as much as 15kg, they continue to grow and increase in size each year. The antlers are shed in Spring and new ones grow for the next season.
Stags live in small wandering groups, except during the rut when they become solitary and fight other stags for the control of a hind herd.
Females are called hinds and they live in herds led by matriachs. Each hind herd spends their whole lives in one area and know it very well. The hinds give birth to single calves which have white spots, during May and June.