Sparring stags, June 2018
Sparring stags, June 2018
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Sparring stags, June 2018

Murdo MacLeod


Last summer, a team of scientists descended on Rum, in the Inner Hebrides, to tag red deer calves in order to track and gather data on them throughout their lives. The deer outnumber people on the island by about 30 to one, has the animals have been the subject of research since 1953, with individuals being monitoring since 1972. These three-year-old stags, captured by the photographer Murdo MacLeod, are boxing – a dominance interaction where neither stag is willing to back down. Bouts last a few seconds and usually settle the matter. The first calf this year is expected in early May, with the peak calving season in late May and early June. The research project has become one of the longest and most complete scientific studies of a wild population of animals anywhere in the world.


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