Red deer are the largest British land mammal. They are descended from the stags and hinds that crossed from Europe after the Ice Age. From Saxon times hunting rights were granted to the English Nobles and tracts of land were fenced to capture some of the wild deer. Bradgate was “enclosed” with a timber pale boundary circa 1240.
It is now the only remaining enclosed medieval deer park in the East Midlands which still retains much of its original form.
Fallow deer, which were brought to Britain by the Romans, would have been introduced to Bradgate soon after the Park was “enclosed” and well before the time of Lady Jane Grey.
Bradgate Park’s red and fallow deer are some of the finest herds of parkland deer in the country. The average number of deer kept at Bradgate is some 370 – there are slightly more fallow than red deer.
The adult Fallow Deer bucks are prized for their ornamental value in deer parks. The Fallow is unique amongst deer in having many colour varieties.
Fallow Bucks spend most of the year in separate all male groups away from the female herds. They come together during the autumn breeding season when the bucks move into the traditional rutting areas and attract and hold a group of female does in an area known as a “rutting stand” and fight to keep off would be contenders. The rut starts in October and subsides in early November when the buck groups slowly reform.
Fallow deer give birth to a single spotted fawn (twins are a rarity) in late May/early June. The young Fawns are suckled by the mother for some seven months.
Bucks typically carry flattened antlers (or blades). Every year these are shed in the early spring and new antlers are grown from April through to June. By August the antlers are fully formed, ready for use in the rut and the bucks carry them through the winter and into the following spring.
The new antler growth is initially covered with a soft ‘velvet’ skin which is ‘frayed off’ by September.
The Red Deer Stags also form separate herds for much of the year, when they live apart from the females and young. These bachelor groups break up once the velvet has been cleaned off their antlers and they begin to establish their breeding territories. They make themselves attractive and impressive by wallowing in mud.
The magnificent antlers, which the stags carry is formed entirely of bone and is grown in a period of only four months. Each year the multi pointed antlers are shed in March and new ones grown again, often larger than before.
The Red Deer are more aggressive than the Fallow in defending their rutting stands and some fearsome conflicts between rival stags often ensue.
The female herd is lead by an adult Hind and also will include the young Red deer calves and some of the yearling males.
The young, a single calf, is born in late May/early June
The Country Park’s Guided Walks programme include Ranger led tours to see the Young Deer and also at the time of the annual “Rut”.
Deer Photography Permits
Providing special access (Weekdays and Saturday mornings only) to the Deer Sanctuary (area generally not accessible to visitors) solely during the “Deer Rut” for specialist photographers.
Permit applications and conditions from Estate Office (Tel 0116 236 2713).
Full day permits - £60
Half day permits - £40
(Charge includes free car parking and VAT).
In the best interests of the welfare of the deer:-
- Please do not feed them - it can be dangerous for you and is unhealthy for the deer.
- Dogs must at all times be kept strictly under control. Any dog found chasing or worrying the deer is liable to be shot.