‘The Grand Master’: Red stag with 21-point antlers spotted in Killarney National Park

‘Tremendous excitement in deer world’ as stag is believed to be biggest of its kind here

The red stag,  believed to be the largest ever seen in Killarney National Park. Photograph: Peter O’Toole

The red stag, believed to be the largest ever seen in Killarney National Park. Photograph: Peter O’Toole

 

A native Killarney Red stag, believed to be biggest of its kind in Ireland, has been photographed in a remote area of Killarney National Park.

Christened “the Grand Master”, the deer has 21 points on his antlers, almost double the norm.

The red stag, part of an unbroken line spanning 6,000 years in Killarney, has scared off younger challengers and has assembled a dozen hinds, or females, in an upland area of the park.

The stag is guarding his harem closely and the Irish Deer Commission is appealing to the public not to go in search of him and to respect his privacy.

Hundreds of photographers have arrived in Killarney for the annual rut, but it was a retired conservation ranger who snapped the giant stag on the highlands.

Damien Hannigan of the Irish Deer Commission said there is huge excitement in the deer world.

They estimate the stag is seven to nine years old, in the region of 250kgs and approximately 6 feet high, including his 21-point antlers and as such is “supersize”.

The norm for a stag’s antlers on the lowland is around 12 points, according to Mr Hannigan.

In addition, upland stags tend not to be as big as lowland stags because of feeding challenges.

“There is tremendous excitement among those of us in the deer world regarding this red stag, ” Mr Hannigan said.

A lack of disturbance and possibly a lack of competition is a factor .

Not much goes by these days without there being a photograph, Mr Hannigan observed. However this picture with the alert stag appearing to be looking straight at the photographer is unusual and is causing a great stir, Mr Hannigan said.

Already there have been 75,000 views of the photograph on posted on the IDC social media sites.

“This is a remote location. We would ask people to admire the photograph but not to go in search of him and to give him privacy.”

Meanwhile, retired Killarney conservation ranger Peter O’Toole says he does not normally delve into wildlife photography, except during the rut . Otherwise he concentrates on landscape photography.

“There have been exceptional animals in the past including a 20-pointer . This guy deserves the title of the Grand Master . I don’t think I have ever seen one as big as this, ” Mr O’Toole told Radio Kerry on Friday morning.

Privately there are fears the exceptional stag may be targeted by trophy hunters and park rangers are on alert for any unusual activity in the remote region of the park.