Bolving: Stag mating call mimic contest held on Exmoor

Bolving refers to the deep noise made by red deer during the rutting season

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A competition to find out who can best mimic the mating call of a stag has taken place on Exmoor.

The event for the sport known as bolving started 10 years ago and organisers said competitors took it "very seriously".

The challenge for the participants imitating the low bellowing sound of the red deer is for a real stag to answer their call.

This year 45 people took part in the event held near Dulverton, Somerset.

Exmoor National Park ranger and former competition winner Richard Eales organised the 10th annual championship.

Start Quote

The basic line is 'come and have a go if you think you're hard enough'”

End Quote Richard Eales Bolving competition organiser

He said bolving referred to the noise made by red deer during the rutting season, which normally starts from early to mid-October.

He said: "The red deer make a roar - a challenge - and you can mimic it and get the red stag to answer you,

"It's a deep sort of roar from the belly, it's got to come from the belly.

"You open your throat, put your hands up and it's got to be a blood curdling roar from inside."

'Stag's harem'

He said the bigger stags rounded up the females known as hinds.

"One stag will keep his harem of hinds together, but this is his challenge - this roar. The basic line is 'come and have a go if you think you're hard enough'.

"You'll get two big stags and they'll be bolving, running around sizing each other up, then they'll have a bit of a tussle and the weaker stag normally gets pushed off.

"Or if they're evenly matched then that's when you get the classic rutting scene of the red deer stags going down and locking antlers and having a bit of a battle."

The competition was won by Rob Follett, 35, from Withycombe, Devon, who was among the competitors who got a response call from a stag.

He said it was the first time he had plucked up the courage to enter the contest.

He said: "I can't believe I have won. I love watching the deer and have listened to the stags call and roar over the years."

All money raised will be given to the Devon Air Ambulance Trust.

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