Johnny Magory - Red Deer

Red Deer – Fianna Dearga

A male deer is called stag or buck, a female deer is called doe or hind, and a young deer is called fawn, kid or calf. The average life expectancy in the wild is 15 years and the maximum is over 20 years. The red deer is Ireland’s largest land mammal and is the only species of deer that is considered native to Ireland.

They earned their ‘native’ or indigenous status, as they are believed to have survived our last ice age or are the closest living population to the post-glacial native Irish Red deer. The antlers which are only grown by the males are the most characteristic feature of the species. They are shed and re-grown each year and have a distinctive branching design which form a curved heart shaped appearance when viewed from the front.

Mature stags can develop up to twelve points known as tines on the antlers which are used as a reflection of their social standing. When the antlers are being grown they will be covered in a skin like velvet which is frayed off on tree trunks in time for the rutting season.

They are mainly grass grazers in open habitats who will also eat herbs, tree shoots, acorns and fruits. They will strip bark from the trunks of spruce and sallow tree types to gain access to the inner more nutritious material and will also browse the lower leaves of heather, oak and holly up to two meters from the ground. Killarney National Park has the last intact herd of native Irish Red Deer as other herds have breed with different species.