A red stag is a male deer and is the largest to appear in the United Kingdom. Besides the United Kingdom, red stags are also widely found in Scotland as well as here in the United States. In Texas, there is an ample population of red stags, making them popular for trophy hunts in Texas, including at Squaw Mountain Ranch. When hunting the red stag it’s important to understand their behavior, including red stag eating habits.
Red Stag Eating Habits and Other Behavior
When it comes to their appearance, red stags are larger than the female of their kind, known as hinds. Besides their notable antlers as mentioned above, red stags are also known for their reddish-brown coat that is visible during the summer months. In the winter it can turn brown or grey. Some sub-species of the red stags grow a mane of hair around their neck which some say makes them look like royalty. They can blend into their surroundings very well.
Red stags are herbivores. When it comes to red stag eating habits, they’re fairly simple. They are not incredibly picky eaters in that they will eat all kinds of plants including grasses, heather, berries, lichen and mosses. They are known to browsers of forbs and prefer grazing sites that have short grasses and broad leaf plants. Tree bark and seedlings are also part of their diet. They tend to strip the bark of the trees to get sap when there isn’t a lot of food around. That is why many homeowners who live in red stag country will often protect their trees against red stag.
Red stags also enjoy browsing on legumes like alfalfa and clovers, but grasses are still their preference. They are also known to eat dandelions, aster, hawkweed, clover, violets and sometimes mushrooms.
Red stags are ruminants in that they spit up their food and eat it again. This is believed to help them with digestion. When there isn’t a lot of food around, the metabolism of the red stags slows down to save energy.
Seasonal Red Stag Eating Habits
Red Tag eating habits are impacted with the seasons and do change. During the summer months, they will feed mainly at dawn and dusk and rest during the day. This is mainly because it is so hot out during the summer months and they want to try to stay cool.
During the winter, they will spend most of their days looking for food due to temperature drops. They will look for food with more substance such as cedar, wintergreen and sumac. They will also seek out rye, oats, corn silage, and wheat. No matter the season, red stags will drink water on a regular basis.
The seasons also play a role in the body condition of the red stags. During the winter, stags are in poor condition after the rut. During the spring, red stags need to find enough food to survive. If vegetation is delayed, it could have a negative impact on their growth and survival. In the summer, red stags will typically beef up as they get ready for the rut. During the fall months, stags will stop eating during the rut and lose some of their conditioning. Then the cycle naturally repeats itself.
Many types of deer, red stags and hinds included, tend to have smaller mouths which impacts how they eat. They will take smaller bites in relation their body size. This means they will take a longer time grazing because they are not taking their food in such large quantities simply because their mouths can’t fit it all.
Hunting Red Stag
It’s important to remember red stag eating habits if you are considering a hunt. Knowing where they like to graze, the types of food they eat, and their eating patterns can be beneficial. It’s also important to note that there are no hunting restrictions on red stags in Texas, making it a year-round activity.