Richmond Park Deer Rut 2013 – Photographing Behaviour

I have been trying to photograph the deer rut for several years and after a couple of poor years for the rut in the New Forest which has resulted in me failing to get a single image I decided to head up to Richmond Park near London to try to photograph their red deer, which are classed as a wild herd, despite being in the royal park.

I did my research, and having seen reports of other photographers making successful trips I looked for the right weather forecast to give me some good light, and hopefully some mist and today, Tuesday 15th October, firmed up nicely. I had wanted to go in the week to avoid the busier weekends knowing that fewer photographers was likely to equal more opportunities and less disturbance of the natural behaviour I was hoping to capture in addition to those standard animal portraits.

I arrived shortly after the park opened, and as I drove along one of the roads inside Richmond Park I could already see stags and some hinds in the bracken. The light was good and there was a little mist hugging the damp ground and so I quickly parked up, kitted up and headed out to the location I had spotted on the way in. As I quietly walked over to the large group of hinds and stags I spotted two other photographers and headed over to them conscious that I didn’t want to stand out too much to the deer. We shot quietly a discreet distance away for some time capturing silhouetted stags, steaming breath from them bellowing nicely backlit and some stunning clashes courtesy of two well matched mature adults with fine sets of antlers. My first Richmond Park deer rut had started well.

I chatted to the other photographers during breaks in the action and was pleased to meet David Plummer, wildlife photographer and trainer, who kindly gave me some tips on where else to shoot in the nearby parts of the park for some different environments and behaviour. Once the hinds had dispersed, and the stags either headed off in pursuit or resting after their exertions I moved away on my own and found two smaller stags who were busy adorning themselves with bracken and bellowing despite there being no hinds in sight.

My morning continued moving carefully and respectfully around this rutting stand seeking out different kinds of images and as the day wore on and the activity calmed further I headed back to my car, packed up and headed back the south-coast delighted with my mornings photography.

Just one image from my Richmond Park deer rut catalogue which I’m working through to edit the best of them ready for use.

Richmond Park Deer Rut


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