A herd of almost 40 Red Deer were headed in our direction, so I crouched down low with my camera poised amongst the ferns and waited for them to move closer. My partner moved to a safer distance, whereas I opted to 'see what happens'.
After perhaps 10 minutes I found myself sat surrounded by deer; there were a lot of females in the herd and numerous younger individuals, presumably last year's fawns. Young males had spindly antlers growing from their skulls in odd shapes and directions, but there were also 6 or 7 big Stags with imposing headpieces that I estimate must have been at least 1.5m across, perfectly symmetrical and adorned with dried grass and other vegetation.
I'd been sat in the same position capturing countless images for almost an hour, when one of the larger males started to pay 'a little too much attention' to me.
If you ever come face-to-face with a Stag (or any other deer) you may experience something called the 'Head Bob'. It is often thought that this is the deer trying to assess whether you are a threat, by viewing you from different angles and both eyes . This behaviour often begins with the deer bowing it's head as though it is about to resume feeding, and then suddenly raising it's head once again to see if you're moving. The bowing up and down can then become more vigorous and shallow as the behaviour continues and the deer tries to better distinguish your form and intent. If you are caught moving, it may indicate to the deer whether you are indeed a threat. In either case, the best thing to do initially is freeze and wait for the head bobbing behaviour to stop.
So I stood, no more than 10m away from the magnificent Stag and waited for the head bobbing to stop; which normally means you can then relax. It didn't stop. Instead, the Stag continued rocking it's head (and impressive antlers) up and down and turned it's body to face me.