At Hilton Coylumbridge

Experience the Red Deer Rutting Season

Experience the Red Deer Rutting Season

Posted by Maria Mangion, September, 2017

When you come to Aviemore, you’re stepping into one of Britain’s most idyllic natural playgrounds. Here, time passing isn’t signalled by clock towers or the hum-drum of a busy day ticking itself away. Instead, we’re lucky enough to have our own piece of wildlife paradise nestled in the Cairngorms National Park, where the start of autumn is marshalled in by the red deer rutting season.


What is Red Deer Rutting?

If you haven’t seen a specimen of red deer yet, Aviemore is replete with this marvellous animal’s presence. You can recognise it through its distinctive reddish coat of fur, and also by its intricate set of antlers in the mature stags. As summer coalesces into the autumnal wash of rustic colours, red deer go through a process known as “rutting”.

Rutting represents the mating season for red deer. If you happen to visit our halcyon kingdom at this time, you’ll be privy to this majestic beast’s courtship tactics. The red deer rut’s ultimate symbolic moment is the deep bellow of the stag as it competes with the other male red deer in pursuit of the females’ attention.


A medley of sights and sounds like no other, the dominant stags defend and protect the female that latches on to their aggressive mating call. The female deer – also referred to as hinds – let the stags challenge each other to win their attraction. In the middle of this wild ceremony, rival stags size each other up by bellowing and walking parallel to each other, assessing each other’s antlers, body size, and fighting potential.

If incited to fight, the stags will test the other’s prowess and use their antlers to clash against the opponent – sometimes even sustaining serious injuries. This is a wonder to behold, and a stark manifestation of violent masculinity to reach the end prize of feminine beauty and fertility.   


Here are some fun facts to learn about the Scottish red deer species:

  • Stags have stronger neck muscles than hinds due to the process of rutting. This is one of the reasons why hinds can never be caught locking antlers with stags.
  • Antlers are actually living tissue encased in a thick layer of protective fibre called velvet. Velvet contains blood vessels which supply the antlers with vital calcium and other minerals to keep them healthy and robust, especially ahead of the rutting season.
  • Before the rutting season starts, stags’ testosterone levels are at their annual high. This male hormone builds up rapidly in stags’ bodies, peaking from September to November each year.
  • Groups of hinds are called “harems”. Once a stag has asserted his victory over one, he’s bound to the guardianship of the harem and protects up to 20 hinds at all times. This can prove exhausting for the stag, which barely eats during this ceaseless patrol.

Follow the Red Deer into the Aviemore Forests

couple cycling

Watch these wild beauties in their natural habitat together with Cairngorms Nature. You can join organised walks around red deer rutting season and grip this spectacle of Scottish wildlife in action.

While the rough mating rounds evolve outdoors, you can save a sweet spot for yourself at the Hilton Coylumbridge. Our countryside hotel is currently offering Autumn Breaks with Prosecco for a limited time period, so you can let yourself and another adventurer be caressed by the purifying air, a bottle of bright bubbly and the Hilton treatment.

From just £99 per room per night, don’t miss the chance to peek at the drama of Aviemore’s natural stage that only performs this act once in a year.