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Rutting Roe

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The spectacle that is the roe rut is something any stalker should aim to witness at some point. It can take an inordinate amount of time and perseverance, but a pair of bucks, fighting it out to maintain their status is truly marvellous.

The roe rut is generally late July, early August, with most activity witnessed in August. The roe bucks are contending for their space in the local hierarchy in the only way they know, by “locking horns” and animals have been doing this much longer than us humans. Defined, “locking horns” is an idiom that describes the ritualistic argument between two antlered animals, such as deer, and the fights that they have using said antlers. Often a blood thirsty battle, they will fight until one backs down, but often the antlers can end up enmeshed, thus “locking horns”.

Whilst Roe bucks are relatively nomadic for the majority of the year, the rut is a time for them to fight for their exclusive territories and their lust interests, whether that be exclusive or a group. The rutting activity often happens at night, and often, the well timed stalker can relieve the defeated buck of his injuries in the early hours of light, if you can catch him before he couches up to tend to his wounds. Often, the victor will have injuries as well, but the cocktail of testosterone and adrenaline is enough to get him through.

Much the same as humans, the buck will be looking to meet his lust interests in and around the territory he controls, which is where the tactic of calling comes into play. Imitating a doe’s “bleat” is the trick. Calling to mimic the sounds of a doe will bring any curious testosterone-fuelled male into sight, and often to incredibly close distances.

For example on a recent stalk, using the Nordik Roe call, I managed to stand face to face with a buck, which was no more than 15 yards in front of. Much to the dismay of my Labrador, who was more than excited, I like to leave the deer alone during the rut, and so, with a quiet and calm “good afternoon”, he was on his heels and away back to his wood, a good way of determining the area that he is controlling.

Once the buck has held his territory, he will cover the does on his ground and nearby as much as possible. The idea of sewing his seed in a broadcast fashion, see’s him cover multiple does if possible, and once sewn, the fertilised egg will lay dormant for approximately 4 months, with no growth. After the 4 month point, 5 months of foetal growth occur, ready for the birth of single or twin kids in the month of May. It is thought that Roe gestate in such a way to avoid harsh northern winter conditions and so allow the kid best chance of survival come May.