The Deer Rutting Season or mating season, occurs roughly from late September to November. The males are particularly active during these months and a little bit less cautious than usual. They’re looking to assert their dominance over other males by rubbing their antlers on trees and scrapping their feet on the ground in order to mark their territory and warn off any would be challengers for their females. This also leads to fighting between the stags and, from what I’ve read, these contests can even be a fight to the death. Not something you’d want to be caught up in that’s for sure. While the latter is not something I would particularly want to see nor photograph, I would however like to capture the stags brawling and locking antlers.
This would be my first time photographing ‘The Rut’ I chose somewhere not too far from my home, Tatton Park in Knutsford. This is roughly a 30 minute drive away from where I live and Is located south of Manchester. It wouldn’t be a massive loss to me should the deer not cooperate with my pre-conceived idea of amazing images I would like to capture today, I could come back anytime given its proximity to me.
The Tatton Park Estate is home to a grade 1 listed, 250 year old country house called ‘Tatton Hall’. The house sits within 2000 acres of land which has also been a home for deer since the 13th century and there is apparently evidence of people being on this site dating as far back as the stone age. Tatton Park currently houses two species of deer, the first being Red Deer and the second Fallow Deer, it also has a working farm, a large garden area and a children’s play area among other things.
Why not check out their website – http://www.tattonpark.org.uk/home.aspx
The fact that it’s now the beginning of October means that sunrise is at the more reasonable time of around 7am. My plan was to photograph the deer in the soft morning light but as it turned out, I was in for a special treat or two…..free parking and lots of mist.
The mist was very thick, but patchy and the car park was free due to the grounds hosting a 10k fun run that morning (and there was me thinking I may have the place to myself).
I quickly headed off in search of the dear and I knew they where close, because I could hear them. Noisy things first thing in the morning these deer are, do they not know that people more sensible than me are trying to have lie in on a Sunday
I didn’t have to walk very far to find a herd lurking in a small wooded area. So with my Olympus telephoto lens at full zoom (210mm Inc 1.4 teleconvertor) and my camera set to silent shutter mode, I started to make my pictures.
**Silent shutter mode disables the mechanical shutter and uses an electronic shutter instead. It also mutes any electronic sounds, such as the beep when the camera locks focus**
Luckily for me the sun was rising directly behind this particular herd making the deer appear as a silhouette. I say lucky because this gave me the opportunity to capture this dramatic, silhouette image of a Doe with the light rays coming through the trees. I don’t think it wouldn’t have quite had the same impact without the mist.
A quick pivot to my left and there was a lone Fallow Deer Stag just observing his surroundings and probably thinking “what on earth is this human doing with that ridiculous looking black box? Very strange humans are”. Luckily he kept his thoughts to himself and let me get on with it. This shot would be the complete opposite of the previous image given that he was looking into the soft morning sun, which was beautifully lighting his face.
**The fallow deer is variable in colour, but is mostly pale gingery-brown, with white spots on the back**
Heading along one of the parks roads, I saw a group of female deer running from a Red Stag. They headed straight across the path infront of me, giving me the perfect opportunity to capture this next picture of a Stag chasing the fleeing females. This just happened to be one of the areas that the mist was at its thickest creating a very nice contrasting background for the stag.
In a different part of the grounds, I came across a particular scene which consisted of two, nicely spaced trees in the distance with thick branches and lots of leaves which made it look a lot like football goal posts, or soccer goal posts for my American readers. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if I could just capture a stag between these two trees which would create a natural frame. Luck was on my side today.
Heading back down towards the lakes edge, so I’d effectively done a big loop, there where two females, one of which was looking directly at me. I had thought as soon as I raise my camera upto my face they may run away but no, she continued to look at me as if to say “well, go on then, get on with it and take my picture”.
Given that I am primarily a landscape photographer, I had to try and merge the two somehow. A landscape shot, but complimented by the deer or vice versa. Mmmm …. a tricky one then. However, I think I pulled it off with this next image….. Have I mentioned that it was misty yet.
All together I must have taken in the region of around 200 pictures and It was very worth while getting up at 5am. It proved to me that if you put the effort in, you will get the rewards. After all, If I’d have stayed in bed, I wouldn’t have captured any of these images.
Here are selection of other images from the this day and thank you for taking the time to read my blog and look at my pictures. Any thoughts or comments would be gratefully appreciated as I would welcome some feedback to my Blog so far.
See you on the next one…..
Oh yeah, just before you go, here is an article about myself and my images from Tatton Park that was featured in the Knutsford Guardian.