Red deer underwater rut

View amazing images of stags rutting in a stream. 

All images © Mark Ollett
All images © Mark Ollett

Mark Ollett won Letter of the Month in the December 2014 issue of BBC Wildlife Magazine for his amazing images of stags rutting in water. Read his story below. 

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“I was photographing a large red deer stag, who had about 25 hinds with him, at last light in Bushy Park in Surrey when another large male appeared on the other side of the stream. Both stags were roaring furiously, and the first stag entered and crossed the stream to confront the newcomer.

Using his height to his advantage, the challenger got stuck in and forced his rival backwards. He then put his head under the water and lifted the other stag up with his antlers. Stag number one broke free, and they went head-to-head with their heads submerged beneath the water for about a minute and a half.

Just as I was convinced that one of them would drown, the original male leapt out of the stream and ran off, leaving his usurper to give an almighty roar and claim his prize – the hinds. I have never seen such behaviour before, and no other photographers I have spoken to have either.” 

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BBC Wildlife Magazine Environment editor James Fair says: What an amazing experience. Have any other readers seen anything like this, or other common species exhibiting behaviour that was unexpected or unusual? Let us know by emailing wildlifeletters@immediate.co.uk or write to us at Your Feedback, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Immediate Media Company, 9th Floor, Tower House, Fairfax Street, Bristol BS1 3BN. 

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See more great photography by Mark Ollett.