The rut creates fierce excitement among the deer. A master stag will seek to control a harem of anything up 30 hinds and calves. To increase his personal attraction, he urinates in peaty wallows, then rolls in them until black from head to foot. He issues challenges to contenders by means of frequent roars - like the bellowing of bulls - and parades ceaselessly back and forth, chivvying his ladies and warding off marauders. Because of all this activity, and because they stop eating for the duration, stags can lose a third of their body weight in a month.
If a rival persists in coming close, there is likely to be a fight. The two combatants often walk side by side for a few yards in a ritual advance, then suddenly wheel inwards and lock antlers with a crash. Deaths are rare, but can occur if the tine of an antler penetrates the ribcage. More often, the defeated stag wanders off in search of easier conquests.Reuse content