Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Fallow Deer Flight and Refuge Behaviour

Fallow deer in flight

My latest book, Wild Signs and Star Paths, explains how it is possible to predict an animal’s next move.

By following a simple stepping-stone approach, we can do things others might find extraordinary. There are three steps:

  1. First we notice that an animal is alert to a possible threat in its environment. There are many signs of this, especially in movement of the head, ears and tail of prey animals.
  2. Next we consider the flight habits of the animal.
  3. Then we think about the refuge habit of that species.

Let’s focus in on one animal to illustrate this. In this case, the fallow deer.

When fallow deer flee a perceived threat, they prefer to head uphill. Given two options and other things being equal, they will head up rather than down.

But things are rarely perfectly equal and this is where the second part comes in: the refuge. Prey animals flee towards a safe zone, their preferred refuge. In the case of squirrels this is up a tree. In the case of fallow deer it is towards woodland of some kind.

By following these simple steps I am able to predict what the deer I meet each day will do.

In the case of the video above, I noticed the fallow deer silhouettes as they grazed in the shade of some blackthorn bushes on a hot day.

I noticed that they had clocked me. Two deer lifted their head and faced my way (a sign described in more detail in the Point Key chapter).

As I continued to approach, I knew that they would bolt once I got too close. It was obvious they wouldn’t run towards me, as I was the threat (or so they assumed). So they would run away, but which way.

There were trees in all directions, but only one wood was uphill. This was the direction that they would head.

If you told someone you could predict the direction a herd of deer would run in the next minute, that might be considered pyschic or a ‘sixth sense’. But, as you can see, it is just putting the jigsaw pieces together. I call the major pieces, the ones that help us unlock our surroundings, the ‘keys’.

I explain 52 of these ‘keys’ in a lot more detail in my book, Wild Signs and Star Paths.

Wild Signs and Star Paths: 52 Keys that will open your eyes, ears and mind to the world around you.