It is not an easy life

At sunrise the big Red Deer Stag is manoeuvring his large herd of hinds away from the well worn 'walker footpaths' and into the large open field. He seems frustrated at the last two or three to follow him and snorts hot breath from his nose and mouth in disappointment.
At the top corner of the field, around 75 yards from the herd another male strides into view. The confrontation is not a physical one (that most photographers dream of witnessing), but a stare and an aggressive stance, is enough to deter, this time.

Red Deer Stag

During the next three to four hours as I watch the behaviour of this dominant male stag through my 500mm lens, I cannot help but feel sorry for him.  He is constantly on the move, rarely stopping to eat grass or vegetation like the hinds, until eventually he clears some ground and sits down. At each end of the field there is a challenging male of similar age, sat watching and waiting.  This large dominant Red Deer is clearly exhausted, his eyes close with long delayed blinks and his neck seems weak at holding up those large and rather long (12 point) antlers and at one moment he starts to lay his head down to sleep, but quickly and abruptly sits bolt upright again. 

Red Deer Stag Sleeping

Moments later he is up again and walking in between his hinds, tasting the air and checking out the safety of his herd.

Red Deer Stag with Hinds

This constant patrolling of the herd never stops while the sun is in the sky, even though the hinds spend a lot of time sitting and watching, along with the two stags that are waiting for their chance to move in.

It is not an easy life...

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