Wildlife on Islay: Deer Spotting

Spotting deer on your trip to Islay is a fun pastime to enjoy as you drive or hike around the island. Deer can pop their cute little heads up at any time, sometimes when you least expect it! In the colder months wIldlife on Islay tend to come closer to our towns and villages, so you might even see one walk past your window one day…

So where’s the best places to go if you want to spot a deer on Islay? Read on to find out. 

A deer looks into the camera

Getting ready for deer spotting on Islay

On Islay, you’ll find three species of deer. Roe, fallow and red deer are all there if you look hard enough. The thing to remember with deer is that they are very easily spooked. They can hear you snap a twig underfoot, listen to you chat to your friend and know exactly where you are without you knowing there’s even a deer nearby! Not only that, but their sense of smell is 1,000 times better than ours. This means try to stay downwind of them, and don’t wear any overpowering deodorant or perfume. 

So the chances of you getting up close to wildlife on Islay like deer is pretty slim. This is why bringing a good pair of binoculars is key to getting a great deer sighting on your holiday. Although deer won’t run away the second they spot you (they will often stand and stare at you for a while to see if you are a threat) they won’t let you get too close either. Try to find a comfortable distance between being able to get a good view of them and them being okay with you nearby.  

Where can I see deer on Islay?

Islay has a deer management group (DMG) which helps maintain a healthy wild population. The deer management area runs on the east of the island from Port Askaig down to Port Ellen. As mentioned, there are three types of deer here on the island and you can increase your chances of seeing them by going to this area. There is a small population of fallow deer just below the DMG. Roe deer and red deer are quite widespread throughout the island. 

A deer stag with large antlers in heather

They like sheltered areas like woodland, heavy grass or gorse. Somewhere they can camouflage. However deer can also often be spotted in fields feeding wide in the open. They can be an unpredictable type of animal!

When is the best time to see deer?

Deer never leave the island, so you should be able to see them at any time of the year. However there is a time in late autumn which can be quite magical. Rutting season is when the large stags get together to fight over breeding rights, and this loud, energetic explosion of wild energy can be heard over many miles. To see it takes dedication, so having some local help is probably a good idea. 

Oh, deer

We never tire of seeing deer on the island. All wildlife on Islay is special, and deer especially so. And remember, when you are done with your deer spotting for the day, make your way to Peatzeria to relax with fine food and drink as you share your photos and stories about what you saw. The perfect end to a deer-spotting day!