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Petworth Park Deer Rut

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Petworth Park in West Sussex is a beautiful 35-minute drive from Oakwood West Holidays. It is renowned for its stunning landscapes and rich history. It’s a wonderful place to visit any time of year however, one of the park's most remarkable natural spectacles is the annual deer rut. This event, which occurs every autumn, is a display of power, dominance, and primal instincts as the park's resident deer engage in fierce competition for mating rights.

Visit in October and November and you’ll be sure to see the park's 800 fallow deer, which roam freely within the park's 700-acre expanse, engage in a captivating display of mating rituals. Male deer compete with one another to attract the attention of female deer and establish their dominance.

The deer undergo several physical and behavioural changes as they prepare for the rut. They grow impressive antlers, which can span several feet in width and are used in combat with rival bucks. These antlers serve as a symbol of power and are essential in determining which buck is the most dominant. The parkland echoes with loud noises. The bucks emit deep, resonant bellows as they compete.

The actual rutting behavior is a sight to behold. Bucks engage in fierce battles, locking antlers and pushing each other, to assert their dominance. Others take a rest in the long grass, regaining their strength. The female deer and the younger males stand by and wait for events to unfold.

As a visitor you have a unique opportunity to witness the raw, untamed instincts of these majestic creatures up close. Only a few minutes’ walk from the car park will take you into the thick of it, follow the sound of the bellows across the rolling parkland and you’ll be able to watch this amazing spectacle all day.

For wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and nature lovers, the deer rut at Petworth Park is an awe-inspiring event that showcases the beauty and drama of the animal kingdom. It’s a brilliant place to take children as they can easily travel the short distances needed to see the deer, and if they have the legs for it there are fantastic grass paths leading through the parkland down to lakes and up hills. Old trees make fabulous climbing frames and play opportunities. They won’t want to leave! There are plenty of spaces for picnics and you could easily spend a day here if the weather is kind.

Once you have heard the noise of the rutting deer you will be able to find them in the wild. Here at Oakwood West the woods are full of deer and if you walk through ours, or any of the local, woods you’ll hear them and perhaps come across the spectacle in the wild.

Petworth parkland was designed in the 1700’s by Capability Brown and has been home to a herd of fallow deer for over 500 years. It’s a beautiful and inviting space that you will want to keep on exploring. Once you have had your fill of the park you can visit Petworth, it’s a picture-perfect old town, full of antique shops, historic buildings, and wonderful places for a cup of tea and something to eat.

Visiting Petworth House & Deer Park

Alternatively, you could visit the impressive Petworth House. Petworth House is under the guardianship of the National Trust, if you’d like to visit the house and gardens you’ll need to be a member or pay an admission fee. The parkland is free to visit, although non members will need to pay to use the car park. There are two car parks, the Southern car park is for the house, it costs £4 and the northern car park for access to the deer park costs £3. There is also some free parking on the road side on the A272 opposite the New Lodge entrance to Petworth Park. Find the Petworth opening times here. They change seasonally, so do check before you travel. The car park can get busy at the weekends so try to avoid arriving at peak times if you can, there is normally space on weekdays.

Dogs at Petworth Park

Dogs are welcome in the deer park, but it’s advisable to keep them on leads near to the deer, and they must be kept on leads during fawn season from May – August.

Oakwood West Holiday Cottages near Chichester

After a day exploring autumnal Sussex, head back to your log fire and bubbling hot tub at Oakwood West Holidays. Our self catering cottages near Bosham are the perfect base for exploring West Sussex. Modern kitchens, roaring fires, beautiful decor and private gardens. We're dog friendly and there's even a dog wash station out front to rinse off muddy paws.

We can also provide accommodation for large family group celebrations across our boutique site.

Find out more about our holiday cottages and live life the Oakwood West way.


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