Common name – Red Deer

Latin name – Cervus elaphus

History – using the former land bridge the species arrived in Britain from mainland Europe some 11,000 years ago.  Since Saxon days various laws have sought to restrict the hunting of red deer and thus preserve Britain’s largest land mammal as a source of food and sport.

Geographical distribution

Reds are distributed throughout the UK and especially in the Scottish Highlands, the Lake District, the New Forest and South West and East England.

Whilst reds are often associated with Scottish estates and uplands, their preferred habitat is woodland associated with open areas, preferably with the availability of arable crops.


Social behaviour

Red deer living in open or semi-open habitat value the protection offered by living in single sex herds.  Whilst most active at dawn and dusk, they can be seen throughout the day, sometimes ‘lying up’ or resting whilst digesting food.  Red stags in wooded areas tend to be more solitary or in small, mixed groups.

Stags tend to remain solitary except during the breeding season.

Management notes

Stalking of red deer is important commercially, and also for environmental and maintenance of a healthy population.  In some places they are farmed for their meat, and are still kept in historic parklands.


Breeding season

Reds breed following the ‘Rut’ from the end of September through to November.  After an eight month gestation period, hinds give birth – usually to one calf – between mid-March and mid-July.  Stags are unlikely to mate successfully until they are at least five years old and hinds until they are between two and four years.

Shooting season

RedEngland & WalesScotlandNorthern Ireland
StagsAug 1st - Apr 30thJul 1st - Oct 20thAug 1st - Apr 30th
HindsNov 1st - Mar 31stOct 21st - Feb 15thNov 1st - Mar 31st

Medal information 

Although there are not a large number of Scottish stags that have achieved medals,  to reach a bronze medal a Scottish red deer trophy should have a dry (90 days after being prepared) weight around 4.7 kg as a full skull, have an average main beam length of 85 cm, and 14 antler points.

For English or lowland red stags,  a full skull dry (90 days after being prepared) weight of around 6.5 kg, an average main beam length of around 90 cm, and 12 to 14 antler points is required to be in with a chance of a bronze medal.

Links to DSUK articles –