Red Deer (Cervus elaphus)

redstagThe deer of literature as it has sometimes been referred to is due to the immense volume of material written about it. Like the fallow deer, the red deer and related species are widely spread throughout the world.

The second largest of the deer in Australia, a stag stands about 120cm at the shoulder and weighs about 160kg (hinds 90cm, 90kg). Coat colour ranges from a dull brown in winter coat to a rich reddish brown in summer; a permanent straw-coloured rump or caudal patch is retained throughout the year. Antlers are a complex combination of long beams with numerous points or projections, the terminal tines at the upper end of the beams sometimes forming a cuplike shape.

A stag with six points on each antler, comprising brow, bez, and trez tines (pronounced ‘bay’ and ‘tray’) on the beam and with three terminal tines (twelve in all for the two antlers) is referred to as a ‘royal’, but exceptional park bred deer have been known to have in excess of 50 points in all.

Introduced into Australia from Britain about 1860 (predominantly from Windsor Great Park — a gift from His Royal Highness Prince Albert), releases subsequently took place in all mainland states. The most successful of these releases was in Queensland, however Victoria retains a thriving population in the Grampians National Park and its surrounds.  In common with the fallow deer, and for the same reason, red deer have a well defined rut or mating season. This is characterised by stags wallowing in mud or dust and by spectacular ‘roaring’ (this has been likened to that of a lion roaring) as they attempt to intimidate rivals and round up a harem of hinds.

Fighting between closely matched stags may break out when intimidatory displays (threats) are unsuccessful in establishing dominance.??Red deer have adapted to a wide range of habitats ranging from treeless expanses of heather-and bracken covered hills and mountains typical of Scotland, to the densely forested range in parts of Europe.
In open range, red deer are capable of detecting the slightest movement at extraordinary distances. In dense cover, eyesight, particularly on stationary objects, is not as effective, but the acute senses of hearing and smell more than adequately compensate.