Richard Eales, an Exmoor National Park Ranger, took 20 people out onto the moors yesterday evening to look for deer – and they weren’t disappointed! The weather was perfect. Warm, still air bathed in brilliant golden sunshine. The light made sure the Red Deer were definitely red – especially as the sunset eased in.
This is National Parks Week, and one of the things that makes Exmoor different from many other National Parks is the presence of these magnificent Red Deer herds. Deer hunting is deeply rooted in the local culture of Exmoor, and although most people prefer to shoot with a camera nowadays, the stewardship of Red Deer is as important as ever. Farmers tolerate their grazing of crops and grass (in competition with livestock) and help to keep an eye on the condition of their local herds.
The summer season is an interesting time of change. Last night we saw hinds with calves – one with twins, which is very rare. Stags had antlers in velvet (actively growing) at many different stages – everything from early buds (‘knobbers’) through to almost finished.
“We’ve noticed stags growing antlers earlier in recent years,” said Richard.
Have a go
If you have never been on a guided walk with an Exmoor ranger, this is one you should try. Richard’s knowledge of the deer is very impressive – he can tell different ones apart and knows their habits. It’s great to have the chance to hear from somebody who understands the animals and cares about them. There will be more deer watching events in August – and look out for the BOLVING event in October!