Having located the Stag as the sun came up it took quite a while of slow, careful and very quiet approach to get close enough to get a good shot of him. Using a tree for cover I grabbed my shots before the Stag decided I'd had enough and moved away into nearby forest but not before at I was able to wonder at the sheer size and power of Ireland's largest wild land mammal.
Killarney national parks deer population is thought to be something between 700 and 800 animals. It is made up of lowland and highland animals. The lowland red deer are considered to be made up of two loose populations, one in Knockreer estate and one in Muckross estate. The highland deer population can be found mainly on Torc and Mangerton Mountains.
Red Deer have been present in the Killarney area since the last Ice Age and their survival was greatly aided by their protection in the 19th century in two of the large estates, Kenmare and Muckross estates. There was however a considerable decline in the numbers from 1900 to 1970 when there were possibly less than 100 red deer left in the Killarney area. Thankfully since then the herd population has increased considerably through rigorous protection. The herd in now fully protected by law and high priority is given to protecting its genetic purity.
In late September and early October the rut will begin, the stags will become more aggressive and less tolerant of each other and they can be heard ‘roaring’ as they seek to gather hinds together to form a harem which they will attempt to protect from other stags. When the hinds come into season he will mate with the fittest hinds. Stags can often be seen during this time clashing with each other in competition for the hinds.
Calves are born around June.
Viewing or photographing the deer in Killarney is probably best done around rut time when the stags are most active but care should be taken to avoid coming between a stag and his hinds. Whenever you choose to view these magnificent animals, being in the close presence of a big powerful stag is a wonderful privilege.