The number and sites of permanent wound tracts in the carcases of 943 wild culled red deer (Cervus elaphus) were recorded. During the peak period of the red deer rut there was a significant increase in the number of these tracts in the carcases, which was associated with a decrease from 89 per cent to 71 per cent in the probability of the first permanent wound tract also being the last (the terminal probability). There were significantly more permanent wound tracts in the carcases of one group (predominantly males) than in a second group (predominantly females and calves). In carcases with a single tract in the trunk, in which the heart and lungs were also examined, 80 per cent had tracts involving the heart and/or lungs, the recommended thoracic target organs. Tracts involving vital structures in the neck were also common, with 15.3 per cent of the carcases with a single permanent tract having damage limited to cervical structures.