Category Archives: Deer

'Time for some introspective contemplation...'


Around this time the big kahuna of the herd gets his swagger on and will parade around displaying his dominance, and making guttural noises for all the females. (As John rightly said, this can also be seen in certain bars in Bath on a Saturday night.) This is male display sometimes invites a challenge from another male, and a fight in-sues. These usually end with the victor chasing off the challenger, but an incident only the night before, showed just how vicious this rumpus can be. (A big strong buck was found during the evening battered and bruised next to what was left of an iron gate… he didn’t make it.) After a spot of lunch the two John’s took us for a walk around the park to see these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. They proved to be quite accommodating, if you approach with caution, and we got to see two have a bit of a disagreement. It was a real treat to see these gentle beasts in a natural environment, with two specialists on hand as they are usually wary of people… (Contrary to popular belief, a buck will not chase you up a tree and keep you there for hours!…)

We have a varied selection of winter talks scheduled here at Dyrham towers, and the third one could not have been more apt. ‘The deer of Dyrham’ by John Stowers. His right hand man was our very own ranger John Cotton. The deer we have here are not only one of the oldest indigenous herds in the country, but how the village and house got its name. Dyrham is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ‘where deer run’. One of the more distinctive elements of the bucks of the herd are the Antlers. They grow directly out of the skull fuelled by testosterone and have a velvety membrane on them. The Antler starts as a stubby spike and will grow more elaborate. As the rutting season gets closer, there is a surge of testosterone and the blood flow is cut off, the Antler stops growing, and the membrane falls away. (Where the term ‘in tatters’ comes from)