The Stag Party With No Males

Disappointed does at a deer rut in rural Andalucía

deer rut Jimena de la Frontera

The only stag we saw was the stone one decorating the entrance to the nearby pueblo of Jimena de la Frontera

We were six consenting adults gathered in the wilds of rural Andalucía to see a sex show; a once-a-year opportunity to watch the local babes shake their booties at a bunch of ‘horny’ males.

More precisely, we’d booked on an excursion to witness the berrea, the awesome autumnal ritual that goes on, for the most part unseen by humans, as summer mellows into autumn in Spain. And the densly cork-forested Los Alcornocales Nature Park which surrounds the Campo de Gibraltar is, allegedly, one of the best spots to see it.

You get a lot for €20, the average price of a ticket: foreplay, accompanied by a chorus of baritone bellowing; a thrilling trial of strength (antlers away!) and, if you’re extremely lucky, the grand finale – with transport, guides and a picnic thrown in.

And if you still haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, here’s the publicity poster that lured us into the countryside on a nothing-better-to-do Saturday night, along with a small group of fellow nature lovers we’d never met before.

deer rut Jimena de la Frontera

Invitation to a deer rut in rural Andalucía

Yes, it does sound mildly pornographic. As a former townie from Fuengirola, I had no idea this kind of thing went on in the countryside. Not the deer rut, of course, but the organised excursions to see it.

But if snooping on Mr Stag getting his leg over Bambi’s mother sounds more than a tad voyeuristic I can only say, ‘if only’.

There we were, six strangers in the fading light, hung about with zoom lenses and binoculars better designed for the theatre, attempting to bring a small brown speck on the fringes of the tree line into focus. It was at least a kilometre away but we could see it didn’t have antlers. It was a doe (a deer, a female deer). The stags? They were at some other party. We could hear them grunting and, by the sound of it, it was a wild gig!

It reminded me of the time we saw a grey speck in Tarifa, on a whale watching trip … But that’s another story.

No one’s to blame. (And the tour company offered to take us again, free of charge.) When you book a ticket to one of Mother Nature’s shows, there are no guarantees. Just ask Sir David Attenborough.

And, ok, you can see everything bigger and better on TV. But it’s the thrill of the unknown …the idea of what you might see (if things go according to plan). And, if they don’t (and if you’ll excuse the pun) at least it gets you out of a rut!

Or stay in London where you might have more chance of seeing a stag in rut at close quarters, as this poor man did:

 

Sizzle Tip No. 1: blogging
When something’s a bust, don’t discard it. Every experience is bloggable, even a non-event.

Better luck next time!

4 FAST FACTS

  • Los Alcornocales Natural Park, named after its cork forests, is home to 35,000 deer (roe, fallow and red) Read more about the park in Why the Campo de Gibraltar Rocks!
  • My berrea excursion was organised by HDL Rural Turismo (there’s no website so see my photo for details or email hldrural@hotmail.es)
  • The cazador furtivo (literally, ‘furtive hunter’) is becoming more prolific in rural Spain due to the crisis, and the rut gives poachers an even better opportunity to bag a nice piece of venison and a wall trophy.
  • In 2012 the Guardia Civil’s Seprona unit  (Servicio de Protección de la Naturaleza) found 44 deer skulls and antlers and a captive doe during a raid on three farms in Jimena de la Frontera.

 

6 Comments

  • robingraham October 26, 2012 at 10:52 am Reply

    Was up in the park myself very recently but I had no idea about the porno excursions. Very enterprising 😉

    Funny writing!

    • Belinda October 30, 2012 at 2:06 pm Reply

      I love writing about the more offbeat experiences to be discovered in Spain, as I can see you do too on your own great blog, Robin. Beats sun, sea and sangría hands down!

  • Alberto Bullrich October 26, 2012 at 11:34 am Reply

    Hi Belinda – You sent me an email on the CampoPulse address, for which thanks! Yes, we can link, and why not? Just one little detail about your article on Jimena here. The former Director of Doñana NATURE Park once chastised me roundly for transliterating the Spanish word NATURAL into ‘natural in English. He insisted -and I fully agree- that all parks are natural, but a Nature Park has global significance as a protected area. Which is why I use Nature when referring to Los Alcornocales NATURE Park. As you see, a small matter indeed, but not entirely insignificant. Love the article! And love the WowFactor!

    • Belinda October 30, 2012 at 2:07 pm Reply

      Thanks Alberto, an interesting point duly noted and amended. Will be in touch when I learn how to link (danger, novice at work here)!

  • Maya October 26, 2012 at 11:58 am Reply

    It’s amazing what can be regarded as a spectator sport. I hope the deer get royalty for their performances..?

    • Belinda October 30, 2012 at 1:54 pm Reply

      Thinking of King Juan Carlos’s recent antics with elephants, I think it’s more likely that the royalty get the deer, Maya!

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