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The Deer Rut - Rum

Updated: Nov 23, 2023

Each autumn, the Isle of Rum becomes the stage for a remarkable natural phenomenon known as the deer rut. It's a time of incredible beauty as the hills and glens are transformed by the changing colours of the autumn foliage. The red deer, with their russet coats and majestic antlers, are a stunning sight against this stunning backdrop.The deer rut, or breeding season, is a time of intense activity and drama for the deer. From late September to early November, the land is filled with the sound of roaring stags, as the males compete for the attention of the females. Engaging in displays of strength and dominance to win the right to mate, only a few males, generally those with the best antlers and fighting skills will succeed. The roaring can be heard from miles away and is a thrilling and eerie sound that adds to the drama of the season.

The deer are the focus of one of the largest and most complete scientific studies of a wild population of vertebrates in the world - the Isle of Rum Red Deer Project. Since 1953 the project has collated a huge amount of information about the deer including behaviour, life history trade-offs, population dynamics, natural selection and the effects of weather and density, including, now, the consequences of climate change.

Kilmory Bay on the northern coastline of Rum is the place to visit if you are interested in the deer project. You can visit the deer hide which overlooks the bay and out towards the Skye Cuillin. Through the Autumn months, it’s easy to spend several hours here taking in not only the beauty of the surrounding landscape but also the drama of the rut.

The Project is always looking for volunteers so if you are interested, get in touch with Ali at

With thanks to Adam Hasek and the Rum Red Deer Project for the images.

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