Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Running Around in Circles

Roe deer are the only species of deer present here at Gibside and late summer is  their breeding season or 'Rut' as it is known.  Dominant bucks with their well developed antlers are busy patrolling and marking their territories by fraying young trees and scraping the ground with their feet as a warning to other trespassing bucks.  Fights occasionally break out between well-matched bucks and these can be brutal resulting in serious injury or even death for the loser.

Roebuck during a bout of rutting

Roe deer scrape done to leave scent from glands in feet

Tree 'frayed' by roebuck to leave scent from gland between antlers

Yearling does usually come into season first and the older does, with their new kids born during April and May, a few weeks later.  When in season the doe will be closely accompanied by the buck and they will endure bouts of chasing and games of 'follow the leader'.  The doe leads these chases followed closely by the buck, often nose to tail,  and often on reaching an object such as a tree, bush or hillock they will often chase around it in circles many times forming a well defined ring known as a 'Roe Ring'.

Roe doe with new kid

Roe deer ring around tree

All this rutting behaviour can take its toll on the bucks and between bouts they can sometimes be observed taking a well-earned rest.

All this rutting is tiring work

As you walk around Gibside or your own local woods you may be lucky to witness some of this behaviour or come across some of these signs.


  1. Nice pics Phil , I thought you might have posted a picture of the old buck from West Wood..

    1. Hi Emma, Thanks for the comments. I had hoped to include a video of the old buck but it would not upload.