It was the most hectic part of the red deer rut on Exmoor in mid October. It was getting late in the day and most of the afternoon deer watchers had gone home.
There were at least six sizeable stags 'bowing' within earshot, keeping their harems in check.
On the far side of the Combe I noticed a good sized two atop stag kneeling and rolling into a soiling pit, before emerging, black from the peat. He then strutted up the far side of the Combe, obviously on a mission; towards another two atop stag of similar size which had several hinds.
The latter was in no mood to lose these hinds, but as the interloper was also fired up, they faced each other briefly before lowering their heads and locking antlers.
The clashing of these antlers could clearly be heard from the other side of the Combe, as they both strove for advantage, at times lifting their heavy foreparts above the ground; using their strength to lift their rival bodily, whilst maintaining contact through their antlers.
The battle continued for several minutes and then the intruder obtained the advantage and chased the former incumbent away roaring to celebrate his victory and rounding up the hinds which had scattered.
In 40 years of watching red deer on Exmoor this is only the fourth time I have been fortunate enough to witness this most exciting of encounters. This experience left me shaking with excitement.