Wild Deer at Glendalough - Neville Dukes

Landscape and Nature Photography


Late in September 2015 I ventured on one of my favourite treks in the Glendalough area of Co Wicklow. The route is well known locally as the Spink (in Gaelic ‘an spinc’ which translates as ‘pointed hill’). It starts and ends at the east end of the upper lake, rising steeply to the almost sheer cliffs around the glaciated valley and continues west across boggy and rocky terrain on wild high ground.

I normally go clockwise around the route.

I was hoping to encounter some wild deer which roam free throughout most of County Wicklow and into North Wexford and are commonly seen in the upper reaches above Glendalough.

They have some tolerance of human presence but are cautious.

Having walked for roughly one hour, stopping to drink in the wonderful dramatic landscape now and then, I began the descent to lower ground before turning across the Glenealo River to return to the start.


I could see a small herd of young bucks on higher ground to my left (south) and, noting that the light was just perfect, I selected a suitable lens, my Tamron 28-300 PZD, attached it to my Nikon Df and began a careful stalk in their direction.

They could see me at some distance but allowed me to get to just tantalizingly outside the range I wanted.

I singled out one particular animal and began to carefully and slowly move in his direction.

It paid off. He gradually became more relaxed and would allow me to get within perfect distance, maintaining that distance as I moved around to find the right setting for a more meaningful composition.

I shot off many and this is my own favourite.

I felt a great sense of privilege that this wonderful creature permitted me to get so close and trusted me to do so. It was a special moment.

Feeling very satisfied with what had just occurred I carried on downhill and sat beside the footbridge spanning the Glenealo river to have my packed lunch.

Just finishing up and re-packing my rucksack, I happened to look up the steep incline (northwards) across the bridge and saw at some distance an altogether different sized beast. 

This was the stag and master of his domain. So I went after him but this time could not get quite so close.

This is the best I could achieve.

I wondered why he appeared to be more cautious than the younger males I had stalked earlier and, with a sudden dash across the slope, my question was answered.

These presumably are the young family he was protecting. I decided to pursue them no further. The stag was bigger than I, had a fine set of antlers and could run faster.

It’s nice when you get days like this.

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