The mating calls of the stags is a unique natural phenomenon
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The annual rut (mating season) of the red deer is one of the largest natural spectacles of the Netherlands. It’s mostly known to take place in the Veluwe region, but can also be witnessed in the Oostvaardersplassen nature reserve.
Red deer seem calm and peaceful animals. That is, until mating season, or the rut, starts (mid September/early October). The stags will leave their herd and head off on their own to find hinds (females) to mate with. To impress the hinds, and to ward off any competition, they make a noise: they bellow.
You can easily hear the stags grunting from roads and walking tracks. You can join a guide, who will get you closer to the animals and further away from tourists.
You might see the hinds in the background, waiting to see who wins. Sometimes when the stags fight you can hear their antlers crash together.
The best place to witness the rut is the Wildebaanweg wild observation site in Hoge Veluwe National Park. Due to the food source they are often spotted in this area.
In national park Veluwezoom the best place to experience the rut is the famous Elsberg, especially if you want to take photos of the deer and their habitat. Another good (and less busy) place where you could see them is the lookout at Heerikshuizen.
Witnessing the red deer rut in Oostvaardersplassen is not easily sighted. But the Praamweg near Lelystad (at the bird observation areas Grote Praambult and Kleine Praambult) are known to be good places to see red deer. You can take a walk to De Driehoek, which is an open willow forest that you can reach easily from the car park at De Oostvaarder information centre, at Kitsweg 1 in Lelystad.
More and more people are interesting in witnessing this interesting natural spectacle. This means it can be busy at the roads and paths where the deer are spotted. The so-called Burltochten (Grunt Tours) are very popular. If you’d like to join one, it’s best to book in advance.
The best time to catch the mating behaviour of the red deer is early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It’s usually quieter in the mornings, and you can see the stags’ hot breath in the cold morning air when they grunt.