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13 November 2014

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You are in: Devon > Nature > Nature Features > Ringside seat for red deer spectacle

Red deer near Tiverton (Steven Hussey)

A stag at the site near Tiverton

Ringside seat for red deer spectacle

Each autumn, the red deer which reside just north of Tiverton gather for the rutting season. Luckily for some locals, all the action takes place right outside their house.

It's a chilly autumn morning, and the sun is rising over the fields and meadows just north of Tiverton.

Would this be the perfect day to witness the spectacular sight of the annual red deer rut?

This area is home to a population of red deer, but seeing them can be a hit-or-miss affair - unless your house happens to overlook the fields where they live.

Jackie and Sheila bought their house in 2007, just a little bit too late to witness the rut.

This autumn, however, they have had a ringside seat as the action takes place on the lawn and meadows outside.

Sheila and Jackie and the BBC crew

Sheila and Jackie and the BBC crew

On one morning this October, they invited BBC Spotlight and the Devon Wildlife Trust to their home to film the rut as part of the BBC's 2008 Autumnwatch campaign.

Success wasn't guaranteed - but perhaps the perfect weather was a good omen.

Sure enough, almost immediately, two large stags went head to head across the lawn within full view of the house's dining room.

As the morning went on, the team stalked the deer as they moved around jockeying for position, grazing and bellowing to each other from one woodland edge to the other.

The crew was rewarded for their persistence, as a large stag with a good number hinds in tow came right up through the garden area to browse.

As they were happily grazing, a younger looking male entered the fray looking like he wanted a tussle. After a five minute stand-off he thought better of it and turned tail – his chance may come again.

A stag roars (Steven Hussey)

One of the stag roars at the hinds

The rutting season lasts about six weeks, and for much of this period, Jackie and Sheila have been watching in awe.

"It's spectacular viewing," said Jackie. "As I speak, I'm looking out of the kitchen window and I can see a really large stag on our lawn, and another one across the meadow.

"There are about 15 hinds around - it's the most amazing sight, it's magnificent.

"And it's happening the whole time, every day. We can watch the deer as the sun goes down, with a nice glass of something on the patio.

"We've seen stags chasing each other, fighting, and we've seen the clashing of the antlers. It's just like Bambi - we are surrounded with little spotted deer.

"Everything stops for the deer at our house.

"Oh, and now the stag on the bank outside has started to roar! He seems to be in charge at the moment. It's awesome."

*All photos on this page, courtesy of Steven Hussey of the Devon Wildlife Trust.

last updated: 30/10/2008 at 16:20
created: 22/10/2008

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