Red Deer Rut Photos – Woburn 2015

October 31, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I’ve written a few blog posts about deer before:

But this time around I thought I’d follow the progress of photos throughout the deer rut season.

As usual, I was visiting my local deer park at the Woburn Abbey estate. Britain has several fantastic deer parks up and down the country, so my advice is to get to know your local park. Each has pros and cons, but the biggest factor is you and how well you know your local patch and it’s deer. At Woburn the stags have enormous antlers, which are spectacular at this time of year, but you must stick to the footpaths there. I saw a few people wandering off the paths this year, which is a shame as it gives all photographers a bad name.



In the early stages of the rut the deer start to separate from their usual herd mentality. Over time the males start to break from the group, and wander on their own. This is the first reason that this time of year is best for watching or photographing the deer, as it means they’re more spread out. In winter you can wander for hours and not see any deer because they’re all grouped together out-of-the-way. But once they split into individuals, they’re spread out all over the park, and you’re more likely to encounter them…

Early on in the rut it can still be a gamble, and I often come back having had no deer encounter at all. On those occasions, I will try to get some landscapes. This one is a panorama from a few telephoto focal length photos stitched together…



Deer look great in the ferns, but you need a little luck to find them there at Woburn. On one morning, there were no deer around as the sun rose, but I had a close encounter shortly after sunrise, with this huge stag. He was eating from the oak tree, and seemed quite happy for me to be relatively close-by. One feature of the deer rut is that the stags lose their shyness, so it’s much easier to get close to them…


You can tell though, that the rut isn’t in full swing yet, as the stags don’t eat during that time. This chap is still keenly feeding up on oak leaves in preparation for the time ahead. Indeed, he was quite skilled at standing up on his hind legs to reach the leaves that smaller deer cannot.

My favourite of this encounter was this one below, as the stag paused for a moment…

A red deer, standing in ferns at sunriseDeer in FernsA red deer, standing in the ferns.
Taken during the
2015 red deer rut.
British wildlife photography, Woburn, Bedfordshire.



I was keen to get some of the deer within the trees, but I never quite managed it. The closest I got was this cheeky look from a red deer stag, who was patient enough to stick around near me for quite some time…



One thing I love about autumn is the misty mornings, and it makes for some fabulous deer photography conditions. The mist can also buy you extra shooting time, holding back the harsh sunlight for a couple of hours…

Red Deer Sunrise LandscapeRed Deer Sunrise LandscapeI like wider views of wildlife as well as close-ups, and even though the mist hides much of this landscape, it leaves just enough to illustrate the environment.
Taken during the
2015 red deer rut.
Woburn Deer Park, Bedfordshire.


This encounter was early in the morning, shortly after the sun had risen…

Red Deer Sunrise SilhouetteRed Deer Sunrise SilhouetteI love to use the mist on these autumn mornings, and a red deer silhouette is so recognisable.
On this occasion the sun was just breaking through the top of the low-lying mist, and I quickly managed to get this shot before the deer moved off over the hill.
Taken during the
2015 red deer rut.
Nature photography, Bedfordshire.

Other times you get the mist, but no sunrise colour. But that’s ok too. I still like the atmosphere the mist creates. This Sika deer was making his way passed me and towards a group of females. Normally more shy than the red deer, this Sika wasn’t concerned with me at all…

Sika in Mist



This would be the standard stag roaring photo. It’s nice enough, but I always want to do a little better to be honest…

Roaring Red



I love a silhouette, especially of deer. Simple, graphic designs are a common thread in many of my favourite photos, and silhouettes are a great way of achieving that…

Roaring Stag SilhouetteRoaring Stag SilhouetteSilhouette of a Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) roaring on a ridge, during the annual rutting season.
Woburn, Bedfordshire.



I wanted to get something different to what I’ve got in previous years, so I tried a longer focal length this year, for some real close-ups. I think it worked pretty well. Most of my deer photos show the deer’s surroundings, so zooming in more gives me a much more intimate view. This one, on white, is an image I had in mind before-hand, so it was particularly satisfying to get…

Red Deer RoarRed Deer RoarA roaring red deer, in high-key black and white.
Taken during the
2015 red deer rut.
Fine Art nature photography, Woburn, Bedfordshire.



This year’s deer rut season was a good one for me. I made the effort to get out as much as possible, and I’ve come back with a range of different photos from my wish-list. I now have 11 months to consider what I’ll try differently next year.

You can see more of my deer photos here on my website, or over on Flickr.


Post by George Wheelhouse, 2015.


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