The red deer rut is a one-of-a-kind spectacle of nature and marks the height of autumn in the county of Suffolk! For everything you need to know about how to see the red deer rut in Suffolk, read on…
What is the red deer rut?
Taking place in autumn, specifically the month of October, the red deer rut is a part of the mating process for red deer.
Mating begins with the females of the species gathering in a large herd. This herd is then joined by large, fierce stags, who are ready to intimidate each other in front of their potential mates. The stags tip their heads back and roar into the air; the one with the loudest roar becomes the dominant male, and essentially wins his harem of females.
However – and this is where it gets really interesting – if there is another stag with a similarly loud roar and a taste for dominance, the two will battle it out using their antlers. They’ll clash together and lock antlers until one becomes injured or backs down, and the winner will take his position as the dominant male of the harem. The fight usually doesn’t last long, but it is a very exciting part of nature in the Suffolk countryside!
Incredible facts about red deer
Did you know that red deer are the largest land mammals in the UK? These majestic animals can grow to around four feet tall, minus their antlers! Although their size is rather intimidating, most red deer (even park deer) will try to escape if a human or other large animal gets too close. However, it’s important not to approach male deer, especially during mating season, as they will display aggressive behaviour.
Formerly extinct across much of the UK in the 1700s, conservationists have worked extremely hard to bring populations back to life. The national population has now reached 360,000, with a large percentage based in Scotland. Here in Suffolk, we’re very lucky to have one of the largest populations of red deer outside of Scottish borders!
Where to see the red deer rut in Suffolk
RSPB Minsmere is, without a doubt, the best place to see the red deer rut in Suffolk. Following a brief closure during the COVID-19 lockdown, all trails and most hides are now open, allowing you to see the deer, as well as a huge range of autumn migrating birds and wonderful flora across the reserve. Most paths on the trails are wide enough to allow for social distancing, ensuring a safe and positive environment for visitors of all ages.
RSPB Minsmere is open from dawn until dusk, with the visitor centre open between 9am-5pm from 1st February to 31st October, and 9am-4pm from 1st November to 31st January.
Tickets are £9 per adult and £5 for children under 19 (first child gets free entrance, and children under 5 go free). Student tickets are £6 each.
Can I bring my dog?
At RSPB Minsmere, dogs are not allowed on trails or in the hides. However, maps are available for walking dogs locally in the area. We also have a selection of blog posts about where you can take your dog, on our ‘Where Do We?’ website.
Where to stay in Suffolk during the red deer rut
We welcome you to stay on board our unique, historic Suffolk Holiday Barges. These stunning static Barges are available for couples, families and groups of friends looking for a relaxing stay in wonderful Suffolk. Our Onderneming Barge is based in the charming village of Snape Maltings and sleep 6, while Twee Gebroeders is based in the market town of Woodbridge and sleeps 4. Both have been refurbished to a high standard, and feature their own kitchen and dining facilities, bathrooms, comfortable bedrooms, cosy living areas and central heating.
Onderneming is a half-hour drive from RSPB Minsmere, while Twee Gebroeders is 45 minutes away. It’s the perfect location for an autumn day out! Want to dive into a snug Suffolk pub for a drink and a hearty meal after walking around the reserve? Click here to view our favourite Suffolk pubs located near our Barges!