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Page last updated at 14:46 GMT, Thursday, 24 September 2009 15:46 UK
White buck at home in the Forest

By Rob Ward, Forest of Dean
Website contributor

A white stag in the Forest of Dean
This buck could be the offspring of the white stag killed in 2007

I was saddened by the loss of our white stag in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, in 2007 and I thought I would never have the opportunity to see and photograph one of these magnificent beasts in our forest again.

However, this was until Tuesday, 22 September, 2009, when I found and photographed a young pure white buck, probably around four years old which could well be the offspring of our fallen giant.

Although not native to Britain, the fallow deer have been present since the Normans introduced them to our forests during the 11th Century.

If you are lucky enough to hear two bucks fighting in the forest, the sound is like ancient warriors fighting with wooden swords and it is truly awesome!
Rob Ward

As autumn breaks near the end of September, the rut begins. This starts with fallow bucks thrashing about in trees to remove the velvet from their antlers. This behaviour can be heard from a great distance and the mangled tree limbs left behind act as territorial markers.

From mid-October through to the end of November the rut is in full swing, with groups of doe's gathering and bucks fighting to secure them as mates.

If an equally matched buck wanders into another buck's territory, a fight may ensue.

They will walk side by side until one turns his head - this is when they both lock antlers and fight.

By forcing his opponent backwards, the fight is a show of strength and the victor gets to mate with the does and keep his bloodline going.

FALLOW DEER
Scientific Name: Dama dama
Life Span: 16 years
Female: Doe
Male: Buck
Young: Fawn
Gestation period: 31 weeks
Number of young: 1
Variants: Common, Menil, Melanistic, White, Albinistic

Some fights can be deadly, as one false move could end in a fatal goring from the antlers and when the rut is nearing the end, the bucks are extremely tired - this is when mistakes can be made.

If you are lucky enough to hear two bucks fighting in the forest, the sound is like ancient warriors fighting with wooden swords and it is truly awesome!

Fallow deer come in lots of different sizes and colours, from black to white.

Although pure white deer are rare, they must not be confused with the true albino deer, for these are extremely rare and seldom seen.




SEE ALSO
In Pictures: Deer in the Forest
24 Sep 09 |  Nature & Outdoors
New scheme to tackle deer deaths
13 Jul 09 |  Sussex
'Disgust' over white stag death
26 Oct 07 |  Cornwall

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