The red deer is a very adaptable animal species and can colonize the most diverse habitats in the Oberallgäu. It prefers extensive forests as retreats with adjacent open areas for feeding. In summer it uses high altitude alpine pastures, in winter lower lying valley bottoms. The deer return every year to the once chosen place and need their shelters there.
Red deer can be startled from some distance, e.g. they perceive skiers approaching quickly as a great danger. Their escape distances are up to 300 meters. A flight means a high loss of energy, especially in high snow and on open areas.
In case of repeated disturbance, red deer retreat into densely closed forests during the day. The usual daily routine and the grazing and rest periods are interrupted, animals only come to the grazing areas at night and can cause browsing damage to young trees.
Red deer live in herds that are separated by sex almost year-round. The mother family, i.e. a female with young of this year and the previous year, forms the basic unit of a herd, which is led by an older doe (leader).
The rutting season in autumn is the only time of the year when both sexes come together. On so-called rutting grounds, the strongest stag (top dog) tries to round up a herd of female animals and defend them against rivals. He proves his strength by his voice (roaring), imponierverhalten and, if necessary, in the fight. After the rut, the sexes separate again and the animals move to their wintering grounds.
The gestation period for red deer is about eight months. The autumnal red deer rut in the Oberallgäu is particularly impressive. Then the loud roaring of the male animals can often be heard for miles.
Males carry antlers made of bone substance (up to 8 kg), which are particularly large and branched compared to other deer species. They are shed annually between February and April and renewed within five months. The antlers are mainly used as a weapon in rutting fights, but usually no injuries occur.
From April to June, red deer grow a reddish summer coat, in September and October a grey-brown winter coat. Only the males have a neck mane, which is deep brown in winter.