Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Sunday, 4 October 2009


Tricia did a post the other day, with some stags, and mentioned the rutting season is here. ‘Something I’ve never seen, and would love to’, I said.

I often have ‘senior moments’, but not usually complete ‘mind loss’; but there’s always a first time I guess. A complete, in capital letters, muppet moment. I’ll explain.

Just up the road from me, is a place called Woburn. The Duke of Bedford has a little place there, with a patch of land, and some wild animals roaming about in a fenced off area, called Woburn Safari Park. It costs money to go there, and I went there once; years ago.

The other day, I sat here, wondering where to go. Somewhere not too far away, and somewhere that wouldn’t cost too much. I dug out my road map, (no sat nav), and studied. I’ve also got a couple of Ordnance Survey maps of the surrounding area. I like maps.
These maps are wonderful, and very detailed. They show hills, streams, touristy stuff, and public footpaths. Guess what. A public footpath skirts round Woburn Deer Park. Eureka!! ‘Public’ means free; and ‘deer park’, must mean deer!
Why have I never thought of this before?

Saturday morning I parked the car in Woburn, and walked the short distance to the footpath that skirts the Deer Park. It was windy, raining and I was cold. I was excited too.
A small wooded area runs past a small lake, with a couple of Swans serenely gliding across the water.

Nuthatches were calling from the trees, Robins, Blue Tits………….why had I never been here before? It was lovely; despite the weather. I carried on past some houses tucked back in the trees, and began to wonder if I was going in the right direction. The sign had said ‘public footpath’, so I carried on.
Out from the shelter of the trees the path ran alongside a stable yard on the right, ahead an unmanned kiosk, and to the left, by another small lake,
a stag. And behind him, the deer park. Mallard were swimming in the lake, but my attention was with the stag. I don’t think I’ve ever been so close to one.
I took pictures, I stared, he stared.
I slowly walked past, towards the unmanned kiosk. A fee was required to walk through the park, or I could stay on this one. I stayed on this one, and carried on.
Glancing back, my stag was calling.

What a great sound, booming across the park. The rain was easing off, and I scanned the park with my binoculars. In the distance I could see more deer, and House Martins flying around the treetops. I thought they had all left by now; maybe these were grabbing the last lot of insects, before their long journey. Crows were circling overhead, making their usual racket.
I carried along the path towards a gate that was by some trees. A good view from here of Woburn Abbey, and more deer.

The time had raced away, and I was cold and wet. I decided to retrace my steps, and make my way back. I’d seen the deer, and stags. I’d seen the stag up close. No fighting between the stags, but I was happy to have seen what I had. I passed the stag I’d seen earlier, and took a few more pictures.

One last mighty roar as I left him to his kingdom.
I'm going back!


  1. Wow - an exciting post - great reading and fabulous pictures. Well done. Hope you're going back for more :-)

  2. another great place to walk and shoot. looks like the stag was so tired of calling he had to lie down!! magnificent set of horns he has also. great post Mr. Holdingmoments!

  3. Woo hoo - fantastic Keith; so pleased you got your Stags and it should get lively during the next couple of weeks!

    Lovely pics but the 2nd one is great!

  4. A grand day, it seems. I think I could just barely make out your reflection in the stag's right eye (left in the photo)! Great stuff!

  5. Great post. With your words it is almost like being there. Thanks.
    I am lucky to live in a place where there is a lot of wildlife. Wild. No fences. Just a few minutes from home I can go from marshes at about 4500 ft to high mountain tops around 10,000 ft (sorry I don't work in meters yet). Great variety of animals and birds.

  6. Well done Keith, pity about the light but they are still good shots. Impressive beasts. I can imagine him with early morning mist and low sun light. You'll have to go again.

  7. Forgot to mention, be aware that they can be pretty aggressive this time of the year. he looks old I seem to recall you can tell by the number of points on their antlers. I've seen them in Scotland with half the country hanging from their heads. Suppose they think it makes them more impressive, it makes them look comical!

  8. Thanks Angie. I was hoping to go again this morning, but it's very cloudy at the moment. A clear sky would be better; I might chance it though.

    Doreen, thanks. I wouldn't want to be on the wrong side of those horns lol

    Thanks Tricia. All this time I've lived here, and it's never occured to me to visit there. Crazy!

    Thank you Wilma. It might be; he did allow me to get fairly close. I'm not too fast at sprinting these days, so I didn't want to chance it lol

    Time to Live, thank you. That sounds like perfection to me.
    Feet and inches for me too :)

    Adrian, thanks. That's just the sort of shots I'm after.

  9. What great shots Keith wish I could get photos like that, Thank you for sharing them with us.

  10. Brilliant photos of the stag Keith and all following a bit of research. Maps are indeed a useful tool, if not always accurate. I spent ages looking for a path in the village which is shown on modern maps but is nowhere to be found.
    You have reminded me that there is a deer park not too far from me. Unfortunately it is on a bust narrow road with nowhere to park but I must have another look one day.

  11. Hi Keith,
    Wow Man, What a day.. It looks like you had a very very good idea!!! yes a pity that you did not do it before, but I cannot imagine your pleasure to discover this new path and get finally what you were heading at, the stags pictures.
    These shots are simply splendid and I would have like to put them in my box too. Well done and thanks to share the whole story with us. This is just incredible.

  12. I too have been to that 'little place' called Woburn but not for years. What a good idea to take the public footpath (good ideas sometimes take a while to dawn ;) ) I wouldn't want a sat nav, maps are far more interesting and it can be fun getting lost occasionally!

    Stunning photos, the one with you and the stag looking at each other is wonderful! What mighty creatures they are.

  13. Adrian, missed that second part about the aggressive behaviour. I went again early this morning, but they were all too distant for shots. Very vocal though.

    Thank you Keith for your comment.

    Thanks John. Something about a map, that a sat nav will never have, despite it's probable advantages. Good luck with your search for parking.

    Chris, thanks for your comment. I was really pleased that morning. Even though no fighting was going on, it was amazing to just see these animals so close.

    Thanks ShySongbird. Not often I get good ideas these days lol
    Nice little place Woburn, worthy of exploration on its own.

  14. What a find!!! AND what awesome shots---Ive never seen better! Great that this place is so close you can visit at will! That is an impressive rack on that stag--must be quite heavy!

  15. Thanks Dixxe. I couldn't beleive I had all this right on my doorstep lol
    That stag looked mighty impressive. I'm glad he didn't see me as a threat. :)

  16. Aye Keith bit like sheep and goats they start by stamping a front foot, just back off a bit, if they do, if you've got the dog they're most likely worried about him/her. He looks quite old so has probably been driven out of the herd. They should be culled. Anyone who has seen the mess a young mature stag can make of the old Patriarch would agree.

  17. Brilliant and the Stag too! Love to find the close but unexplored back yard spaces. The Duke of Bedford has just a bit of a spot? Thanks for sharing your exploration, you've done it again with you marvelous photos!!

  18. Thanks for the tip Adrian.

    Thank you for your comment Andrea.
    Yea, just a small place the Duke has, about 3000 acres. lol

  19. What a beautiful sight that you photographed, well done Keith. The Stag had antlers on it were big and marvelous.

  20. Nice detour at a "public footpath", that accompanied with great pictures.

  21. Great shots of the Stags, best I've seen anywhere this year, eat yer heart out Simon King!

  22. Thanks Bob. He was a big ol' lad, and a great sight to see.

    Tabib, thank you. It certainly pays to go of the beaten track at times.

    Thanks for your comment Paul.
    Simon King, lol

  23. your stag photos are stunning! they show his majesty.

  24. Thanks for stopping by Tammie, and commenting. Appreciate it.
    The stags really are such majestic creatures.

  25. Wow!! What a spectacular shot of the deer. He is gorgeous. You are so lucky to have these places to visit. When I came to the shot with Woburn Abbey in the background it looked like something right out of Pride and Prejudice. I would probably stand around dumb-struck for a month visiting all these beautiful places. I've never heard the booming roar of a stag. I think I need to add that to my list of things to search for...loved the post!

  26. Kelly, thanks for your comment.
    I certainly had luck on my side that day. The stag posed beautifully for me. I went back yesterday, but they were all too far away.

  27. Great images Keith and they were free which is more to the point. I am sure the Duke will manage without your entrance fee.

  28. What a magnificent beast ... and photographs. I've never seen a Stag in real life, but wish I could. Perhaps a visit to Woburn could be arranged.

  29. Thanks Roy. I reckon the duke has a little bit more cash tucked away than I'll ever see lol

    Valerie, thank you. There's a couple of public footpaths that cover a fair bit of the deer park. Well worth a visit. Woburn itself is quite nice too.

  30. Wow, that's a great portrait ... he looked straight in the lens. Your male had no head-gear ... like that one photographed by Tricia.
    "Something I’ve never seen, and would love to" is also my story ... but maybe in the future.

  31. Really like the composition of the first shot of the stag. Great work.

  32. Oh my GOSH! My heart was pounding just reading about it - if I had been, I might have fainted. These photos are perfect. I love them all.

  33. Thanks for your comment Andor. I think the headgear comes when they actually start the real business of the rut. At the moment it’s just lots of calling.

    Dev, thanks for your comment. Appreciated.

    Thanks Jen. I was pretty excited myself, being able to get so close to one of these mighty animals.

  34. Definitely a 'roaringly' successful visit. Glad to hear someone else is a map fan! FAB.

  35. Cheers Frank. Can't beat the detail found on a good map. :)

  36. Thanks for your comment Pete. Appreciate it.
    It was a great visit.

  37. Wow, what a magical discovery!

  38. Thank you Omi. It's fast becoming a 'favourite' place. :)