The call of the deer

© photo Massimo Mattioli

The daylight shortens, the temperatures sink, the leaves begin to turn yellow on the highest ridges.

Signals of the forthcoming autumn, signals for the king of the forest: in this time of the year, the deers – the biggest Italian ungulate – are in the midst of their mating season.

Huge males weighting over 200 kg with antlers up to 1 mt tall confront each other to win over the highest number of females to include in their harem. Madly in love, these gorgeous animals fight each other in several ways, displaying all their power.
The roar of the deers echoes in the woods to signal contenders’ presence: the louder the call, the farther the other deers leave, certain of their inferiority.

Males sizing each other in parallel walkings preludes to harsh clashes: the clearings turn into fighting grounds, witnessing antlers crossing and noisy blows. Males constantly oversee their harem, preventing females to leave and intrusive males to approach, by typical behaviors like the “cough” (a convulsive call), the amplification of male smell (by spraying urine on its belly) and rubbing the antlers against the trees to enlarge them with branches.

Unaltered, year after year, the charm of this ritual attracts passionate and curious people from all over the area. Despite their size, it is important to remark that deers run away when they spot humans; an adequate observation distance is hence always to be kept in order not to interfere with deers’ habits, especially in this time of the year.