Deer rutting season in the Scottish Highlands | Loch Ness 360°

Scotland is famous the world over for its rugged landscapes and stunning wildlife. So when these two areas combine, it makes for an experience of a lifetime. This is what happens if you catch the annual sight of deer rutting season in the wild. It’s an almost magical experience that captures the imagination and reveals the true beauty and strength of our majestic deer.

So, what is deer rutting, when can you see it and, most importantly, where are the best spots? 

What is deer rutting?

Deer rutting is how male Red Deers decide who gets to mate with the female deers each year. Of course, this isn’t accomplished by civil discussion or a flip of the coin. Rather, the males (or stags) become pumped up with testosterone and get ready to fight any other stag who stands in his way. By rounding up the female deer (a doe or a hind) they protect their territory and thus their mating rights. 

A deer rut scene is dramatic – often better than any action film you might see in the cinema! The stags’s hot breath is visible in the cold Scottish air. They smash and crash down on each other’s antlers. The deer have put on weight for this, so it’s serious business. They can lock horns and really take it out on each other. Rutting stags rarely hurt each other, even if it starts to look a bit rough. 

The best times to see a deer rut in the Highlands

In the Scottish Highlands, deer rutting takes place in the autumn. The best times to try and view it is from the end of September until the start of November. Rutting can take place at any time throughout the day. However, most of the action is going to be early in the morning (around three hours after dawn) and late at night, (about three hours before dusk). So make sure you bring plenty of coffee to keep you going! It can never be guaranteed though, and weather can often hinder rutting activity, but don’t give up! Come back again because it’s a sight worth seeing. 

Where to see deer rutting

Rutting takes place all across the Highlands. You can listen out for the bellows! However many companies offer rutting safaris and tours to make sure you get the best possible chance of seeing it. 

Some places to stay near Loch Ness, like Eagle Brae, occasionally have deer rutting take place on their land! If you’re lucky, you can hear the noises from your cabin. Do be careful if you chance across a Red Deer rut though. These are wild animals, and they are huge! Keep your distance and respect these beautiful creatures. If you take any photos, be sure to let us see on our social media!

So join us in autumn for the annual deer rutting season and prepare to be amazed at nature’s beauty and strength. Bring your binoculars, camera and a sense of adventure. You won’t forget this experience in a hurry.