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We had stalked carefully towards a huge roaring stag for more than half-an-hour. There was practically no wind and the forest was still buzzing with activity as the beasts continued their rut, even though it was now fairly late in the morning. We could hear seven different stags responding to each other’s challenges, and though the ferocity of the rut had abated slightly since dawn, there could be no doubt that the fighting spirit still surged through the veins of these old campaigners. The rut of September 2014 was one of the most intense that Franek, our guide, had experienced during the many years he had worked in this district, which is renowned for its healthy population of red deer.
CLOSE ENOUGH TO SMELL IT
The deep roars came in bursts, and each time the stags got going, we tried to hurry through the alder swamp, confident that the racket they were making would easily drown out any noise we might make. We were close now. So close that we could hear the stag’s laboured breathing in the periods between his loud outbursts, when he would stamp around amongst the ferns.>