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Autumn is also when some of the stags grow their neck manes.The autumn/winter coat of most subspecies are most distinct.
The male (stag) red deer is typically 175 to 250 cm (69 to 98 in) long and weighs 160 to 240 kg (350 to 530 lb); the female (hind) is 160 to 210 cm (63 to 83 in) long and weighs 120 to 170 kg (260 to 370 lb). At the other end of the scale, the Corsican red deer (C. corsicanus) weighs about 80 to 100 kg (180 to 220 lb), although red deer in poor habitats can weigh as little as 53 to 112 kg (120 to 250 lb). Only the stags have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each year, usually at the end of winter.
With the approach of autumn, the antlers begin to calcify and the stags' testosterone production builds for the approaching rut (mating season).
During the autumn, all red deer subspecies grow thicker coats of hair, which helps to insulate them during the winter.
It is probable that the ancestor of all red deer, including wapiti, originated in central Asia and resembled sika deer.
The red deer is the fourth-largest deer species behind moose, elk and sambar deer.
Genetic evidence indicates the red deer as traditionally defined is a species group, rather than a single species, although it remains disputed as to exactly how many species the group includes.
The closely related and slightly larger American elk or wapiti, native to North America and eastern parts of Asia, had been regarded as a subspecies of red deer, but recently it has been established as a distinct species.
Several other populations have originated either with "carted" deer kept for stag hunts being left out at the end of the hunt, escapes from deer farms, or deliberate releases.
Carted deer were kept by stag hunts with no wild red deer in the locality and were normally recaptured after the hunt and used again; although the hunts are called "stag hunts", the Norwich Staghounds only hunted hinds (female red deer), and in 1950, at least eight hinds (some of which may have been pregnant) were known to be at large near Kimberley and West Harling; they formed the basis of a new population based in Thetford Forest in Norfolk.
The Caspian red deer's winter coat is greyer and has a larger and more distinguished light rump-patch (like wapiti and some central Asian red deer) compared to the Western European red deer, which has more of a greyish-brown coat with a darker yellowish rump patch in the winter.
By the time summer begins, the heavy winter coat has been shed; the animals are known to rub against trees and other objects to help remove hair from their bodies.
In many parts of the world, the meat (venison) from red deer is used as a food source.