Before humans invented language, primeval man may have bellowed to the beasts in a bid to communicate. A million years later they're still doing it in just one unique location – and this weekend the 10th annual World Bolving Championships took place in a remote corner of Exmoor.
The event, which raises funds for the Devon Air Ambulance charity, has been increasing in popularity ever since its inception and on Saturday night more than 300 people turned up at Blaydon Rails near Dulverton to witness remarkable phenomenon in which people attempt to talk to wild animals.
It may have been the championship's biggest ever night from a human perspective – however, the same could not be said for the rutting stags who had obviously been lured up the valley by a more promising, testosterone-filled, challenge.
"It is a bit quiet as far as the stags were concerned," shrugged event organiser, Exmoor National Park ranger Richard Eales, as Britain's only Stone Age competition began. "This morning there was a lovely four-and-two-atop stag down there but he seems to have replaced by a little pricket (a young, not fully formed, male). So it isn't like last year when just about every bolve was getting a reply."
Nevertheless the occasional roar could be heard in reply to the 50 or so competitors who attempted to touch base with their inner rutting instincts. The human bolves varied from long drawn out wails loud enough to wake the dead, to short sharp grunts reminiscent of a verbose woman in labour.
Others went for a more operatic approach with results that sounded either like a chained Rottweiller being teased by a lunatic rabbit, or a Bristol Channel fog-horn with a sore throat.
After the event Mr Eales told the Western Morning News: "Just at the end the stags really started up and a few of the organisers, who were the last to leave, were getting replies from every roar.
"It didn't matter, though – we did really well for the air ambulance. Flipping heck, people were generous back at the Rock Inn afterwards. They were throwing big money into the pot."
A few hours earlier Mr Eales had explained the basics to new competitors who had come as far afield as Japan to take part: "The bolve of the red deer stag is his mating call – during the rut it's sent out by a male as a challenge to other stags who want to come in and mate with his hinds.
"What we do is mimic his call, getting him to answer us back. If he comes back every time the competitor bolves, then it's up to the judge to see how much it sounds like the stag himself. They have heard a lot of stags and they know how good the bolve is."
Elvis Afanasenko, who is undisputed master having won the competition five times, told the WMN: "I can tell by the stag's voice – and if the person is making the same noise as the stag. It's just one of those things – if you can do it, then you've got the knack for it."
One person who certainly did have the knack was Ron Follet, of Withycombe, in West Somerset – who is now the planet's Bolving World Champion for the next year.