Saturday, October 4, 2014

The rutting season at the Hoge Veluwe

September is the rutting season for the red deer at the Hoge Veluwe national park.
The rutting season is the mating season for the big mammals, male deer usually don't hang around with the hinds, but during the beginning of autumn the mating instinct pushes them to stay with the herd, it's therefore easier to see the males.

The most famous place in the Netherlands to enjoy this activity is the national park Hoge Veluwe, where there are at least three big herds of deer. The rangers and park administration know that this is a great added value for the park and a big opportunity of income to sustain the park itself.
To make more attractive for photographers, during September (only September!) the rangers feed the deer with apples to attract them in front of specific observation points.

There are two feeding points relatively close, one or two hundreds meters apart, on the road called Wildbaanweg. Usually the rangers distribute food first on the point more souther, than on the north one. I suggest to stick with the north one, since it's likely that the animals stay around longer, not being bailed anymore after that feeding.

If you enter from the north west entrance drive until where you have to turn right to go towards the museum, then you should go straight on until you see photographers :)
In september there are a lot of them.

The rutting season begin can change from year to year, this year (2014) started very early, at the end of August, last year on September 10th was everything quiet. I think that if you have only one day in September, a safe bet is around September 20th, at that point the rutting should be in full swing.

And you can see male and females together, point your cameras to the males and wait for them to shout their love call!

The deer will hang around for around 15 minutes or more, so be ready to shoot as many pictures as you can, check your settings when you see the ranger spreading apples, it will takes few minutes for the deer to arrive. 

Stay on that spot until you're happy with your photos, or the deer go away. I usually stay there a little longer to try to get deer from different point of views.
Eventually these beautiful animals will leave, and disappear in the woods.

Then, you can go home, or.. if time allows.. continue south on the road and go to another observation point, just after a crossing but on the same road. You'll see, if you're lucky, other photographers. At this point there are chances to see deer from a smaller herd, but being the area on the west of the road you will get some photos with a different light, this year I was not lucky this year, but it's worth trying!

Now it's probably too late for the Hoge Veluwe, but the rutting season at the Oostervaardersplassen is shifted few days later, so you may have luck there, or try the AWD for the rutting season of the fallow deer, that usually goes well into October. 

All the photos were shot with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and a Sigma 500 F4.5 EX DG (sometimes multiplied with a Kenko 1.4x).

Hope you found this post interesting, please feel free to contact me for any question!



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