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Stalking deer in the Gleneagles Wood


I try and do one big walk a week with dad, usually at the weekend. There is always a kind of plan. Sometimes it is to watch deer, sometimes it is to explore new woods or deserted buildings, and sometimes to look for bones. Sometimes it is a bit of all three. This is about a walk I did two weeks ago where we went to watch roe deer.

The wood I chose was one I call the Gleneagles Wood because it is close to the Gleneagles Hotel. It is set on a heather moor, and is mostly dense pine trees with two big clearings. I have been here a lot. I first wrote about it here in January 2010, and the last time I wrote about it was last November. But this time was a bit special because I discovered something new !
This is the type of clearing I was talking about. To watch deer you have to stay under cover which means staying at the edge of the clearing to start off with.

It was raining when we first walked up to the woods. We went quietly into the north east corner and worked down. I spotted a roe deer, and so we went down an old stream bed for cover to watch them.

This was the first roe deer I spotted. It is about ten months old, and you can see its pedicles which show it is a young male that doesn't have antlers yet.

Then I saw this female which was well hidden beside it. This female roe deer looked small, so was probably about the same age.

About this time of year the roe deer that are almost a year old get kicked out by their mums and dads so they have to find their own territory. (Dad says the same thing will happen to me when I am 18). So I think these two were out on their own for the first time.

After a while of watching them, they moved back into the woods, and we carefully climbed up into the clearing looking for other deer all the time. There weren't any, but there were two noisy buzzards whose nest was in one of the big trees in the clearing.

At the other side of the clearing we saw this deer poo. It looked really wet and fresh, meaning the deer must have just been here recently. It was too big to be roe deer. It must be red deer !

The rain had stopped so I put my waterproof jacket away because it was noisy.

We moved into the second clearing, at the top corner, and really carefully looked around. Then I spotted a deer at the far side. It was a red deer stag, and the first time I had ever seen any signs of red deer here !

It looked about 3 or 4 years old, and it was with an adult hind, and a young hind. They were standing eating at the far of the clearing, right under an empty gamekeepers seat.

We watched them for about 15 minutes, then he started to sense us even though he couldn't see us.

He smelt the air and licked his top lip.

Then he must have smelt us because they headed back into the woods very quietly.

Dad suggested that before we move, we have a good look around us to see if any other deer had close without them realising we were there which happens a lot. Then we saw something about 300 yards away at the other edge of the clearing.

We carefully moved closer through the middle of the clearing using the trees as cover. There were two roe bucks squaring up to each other.

I think the one on the left in the photos controlled that territory and the other buck on the right was trying to enter it.

They kept putting their heads down and pawing the earth like a bull in a bullring.

The strange thing was that they didn't actually fight, they just looked that they were about to but never did. Dad told me that red deer only actually fight as a last resort because any injury could turn fatal even if they win the fight.

We were trying to get closer still but they must have sensed us so they both went back into the woods.

We went through in the same direction but in a different bit so as not to spook them. As we went north through the clearing, dad spotted one of the bucks in the trees. We crouched down and lay in wait for when he moved across the clearing. He spotted us and ran into the trees barking for ages to warn the other deer.

The walk back was exhausting. The rain was really heavy and we were on the moor and were quite exposed. There were bits when we had to find new routes because the track was under water.

But even though I was soaking wet, it was still an amazing walk because I got to see lots of deer behaving in all sorts of different ways.

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Jack N said...

Cool tracking trips, I'll use them when I go to an awesome new deer wood today,its got red & muntjac deer!

Psydrache said...

What Camera do you or your dad use for your amazing pictures?
Man, you are so lucky to see deers and bucks so often. We have mountain forests here and the game animals were so extremly shy, it's unbelievable. But the good part of it: Not su much rain ;D
Thanks for sharing your pictures!

Jake said...

@Jack: Cool !
@Psydrache: Thanks ! He uses a Nikon with a really long lens and does the other stuff on his Blackberry phone.

Jack N said...

No deer...but a partial bull skull with horns(that I took home)and a buzzard, a skylark and a peregrine falcon!

p.s:the cow skul was sticking out a riverbank(weird!)
p.p.s:SATS has started ...AAAAAAAAAAGH!

fluffyside said...

hello jake, i think i need to take a trip to see you about your bones you have got, its great to have a hobby on your storys on your blog, its good, i am sorry that you got wet abit, anyway i will get back to you soon my friend see you soon from neil

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