National Park De Hoge Veluwe
Every September, nature-lovers flock to the park hoping to catch a glimpse of the rituals associated with the rut of the red deer. The wildlife observation sites along the wildbaanweg are some of the best spots for this.
The red deer is the largest mammal in the park, also named the king of the park. This is largely due to the majestic appearance of the adult male. With its colossal antlers, strong neck, and dignified stature, the deer certainly has something regal about it.
In the park there are some two hundred red deer. The males, known as stags, spend most of the year in groups called herds.
The females, known as hinds, also spend the majority of the year in herds, along with their calves and year-old offspring. Only the males carry antlers, during the rut the composition of these groups’ changes.
Just before mating season, which starts every September and is also known as the rut, everything changes. The stags leave their herds and head off alone. This change in behaviour is caused by changing hormones. The testosterone coursing through their bodies also leads to physical changes. They become more muscular and grow long hair around their necks.
The solitary stags then go in search of females. Once found, they compete for their attention by roaring. This sounds like a cross between a lion’s roar and a bull’s bellow and can sometimes lead to quite violent fights between the stags. The larger the harem a stag manages to acquire, the more offspring he will have the following year.
The most accessible spots are along the wildbaan , on two meadows there is a daily feeding around 17:00. This is not always a guaranty that there will be deer around in large numbers but most of the time they do. For the evening shots it is best to go the beemsterweg along which is a meadow and with luck the deer will come to the edge.
Don’t expect to be one of the few as this event is well known with the locals and attracts a big crowd every day and especially when the weather is fine.