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The dune heaths giant
The red deer is Denmark's largest wild animal on land. Like most deer species, it is recognized by the tail and hindquarters (the "mirror") and, for the male deer, by the characteristic antlers.
The tail is yellowish-brown, and the area around the "mirror" is a light reddish-yellow. The body length for an adult male deer is just over two meters, and a female (hind) is slightly smaller. The shoulder height is 120-150 cm. The weight varies greatly depending on the animal's gender, age, and nutrition. Hinds weigh between 80 and 120 kg, while males can weigh 140-180 kg. For comparison, a roe deer weighs 20-25 kg.
The hoof prints vary in size from about eight cm in length and just over six cm in width for an adult male deer to just over six cm in length and four cm in width for an adult female. The excrement is dark brown and around two cm long and 1.5 cm thick. During the summer, the excrement can stick together and float like a small cluster.
A male deer develops its first antlers when it is around 10 months old. It usually consists of two unbranched points (spike buck), which are carried by the animal until it is nearly two years old. After that, a new set of antlers with 2-4 tines on each beam (brow tine) is formed, which is fully developed in October. In older stags, the number of tines increases as each beam splits forked at the top.
Older stags shed their antlers annually in February-March, and the new ones are fully developed and free of skin and hair remnants in July.
See and Hear Red Deer in Thy National Park
The easiest time to see the red deer is during the rutting season, from the end of August to the end of October. It's best to experience them around sunrise and sunset.
- From Hanstholmskrænten at Brunbjerg or Hanstholm Lighthouse, you have a great overview of the wildlife reserve and can, with a little luck, both hear and see the red deer displaying themselves.
- In the northern part of Tved Plantation, at Sårup, there is a platform and birdwatching tower that provides excellent views of the reserve.
- You might also get up close to the red deer at the small parking lot at Tvorup Hul. At Ålvand Klithede, you can certainly hear them.
- Remember to keep a safe distance from the animals and respect the need for plenty of space.
- Stick to roads and paths where the deer are accustomed to human traffic.
- Do not venture into dense vegetation following the sound, as it's very difficult to see the animals there and easy to disturb them.
- Keep your dog on a short leash.
- And remember that there is a year-round ban on access to the eastern part of Hanstholm Wildlife Reserve.