It’s the undisputed Monarch of the Glen - the largest of all Britain’s land mammals - and awesome when stags are in full roar during the autumn mating time or ‘rut’. There are large numbers of red deer in Scotland - a problem for re-growth of native woods, but a bonus for watchers who like to see the herds.
What to look for
Red deer are big: something akin to a medium-sized pony for scale. Stags’ antlers are multi-branched (some much more than others). They shed and re-grow them in summer before the rut. Females - ‘hinds’ - have none. Listen for autumn roars as a pointer to red deer location in the hills.
In medieval times, red deer were hunted in Scotland by driving large numbers of them across the hills and through woods into traps called ‘teinchels’, where hunters lay in wait. The link between deer and trees at that time led to the term ‘deer forest’ - still applied to some upland areas that are now treeless.
When and where to see
Winter can be good for deer watching, since herds will seek lower grazings in bad weather. Some roads give good routes and wide views across prime red deer ground. Try the minor road from Braemar to Inverey and Mar Lodge, the A9 at the Pass of Drummochter (use the big lay-bys) and the A897 near Forsinard in Sutherland. Take great care if driving in red deer country at night, both for your own and the deer’s sake.
Find out more about red deer at Trees For Life.