Competition is good for us, so we are told. There's not much cooperation between stags when rutting time beckons. The prize to be won is the chance to pass on your genes. So when he scents the presence of another male in the air the nose goes up and whole demeanour changes.
It didn't come to anything this time but the willingness of the intruder to move away suggests there may have been a clash earlier.
All done with no bellows and quite civilised. And four hinds may be a modest lineup but it means he's in business.
The two are of similar age, ten to twelve pointers. No sign of the really big 16 point stag nor of another larger animal seen earlier this year.
We needed to be reminded how good it is to see wild animals in a nearly wild setting. The few hinds have been seen a number of times over the summer but the sight of stags in good condition on the woodland edge with trees splendid with bright red rowan berries is spectacular. Why it is not valued more by the local managers and their unimaginative stakeholders beats me. Every mention of them is at best a qualification of the value of deer. And that value should be proclaimed both for the animals themselves and for the benefit brought to humans who see wildlife. Surely the first thing to be said about them is how beautiful they are yet I know those who jump in quickly to tell you that they do damage and that they are 'escapes' from Chatsworth, as if that diminishes their value. Of course it doesn't. And talk like that leads to an attitude that grows into seeing them as superfluous to the landscape, rather than an essential part of it; in fact we should be seeing this exactly the other way round, nourishing a landscape that serves the deer along with badgers, foxes, birds of prey and other inspiring wildlife.
Another younger stag was also around on the fringes of this morning's activity. If they have come over from Big Moor they would be best advised to stick around, lest they return and get 'managed'.