Deer Antlers: How They Grow in June and July

??????????????Antler tissue is the fastest growing tissue known to man. Beams and tines may grow a quarter-inch or more per day, the process driven by a buck’s hormones and the photoperiod of the summer days.

According to Missouri scientist Dr. Grant Woods, a buck’s rack will show most of its points by mid-June, though tine length is typically less than half developed at this time. Most beam length will grow by late June.

Those are general rules, but Grant points out that the growth of individual racks varies. “Some bucks will show a lot of antler growth early, while others seem to add a bunch to their rack during July,” he says.

More interesting facts about summer antlers:

–Antlers are made of bone, consisting mostly of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals. Although some of the minerals needed for antler growth are taken from food, a lot of them are sucked from the buck’s skeleton, which may cause him to develop osteoporosis during the summer. Setting mineral licks for the deer can help.

–Throughout June and July, velvet antlers have a complex system of blood vessels that causes them to be hot to the touch. Dr. Woods notes, “There is so much blood carrying protein and minerals to a buck’s antlers that even small antlers are easily detected by thermal imaging devices. Tines show up like neon signs when flying over with thermal cameras in summer.”

–Tiny hairs on the velvet stick out and make the antlers look bigger than they are. The hairs act as a radar system so the buck won’t bump into trees, fence posts, etc. and damage his soft antlers.

–Sebum, a semi-liquid secretion, on the hairs gives the velvet a shiny look. Sebum also acts as an insect repellent to keep biting flies off a buck’s rack and face.

Now is the time to set out trail cameras and monitor the racks as they grow now through mid-August.

Photo above: This image of an Illinois buck is from July 4 last year, impressive antler growth!  

Arizona Bowhunter Shoots World Record NT Coues Deer (139 2/8)

wr coues 2018A panel of Pope & Young Club measurers recently scored a non-typical Coues deer at 139 2/8, which ties the existing P&Y record for that category. (The rack’s velvet was stripped prior to the official measurement.) The magnificent deer was shot by Wesley Ely of Wilcox, Arizona in August 2017. Here is Wesley’s story in his words:

It all began on a summer scouting trip in 2013 when I noticed a young buck with massive antlers. I continued to scout and occasionally hunt the area while the buck kept getting bigger each year.

In 2017 I decided to devote all of my time off to find the buck’s summer habits. Sixteen days before opening day, I began to pattern this elusive animal. On opening day in the middle of public land, I couldn’t help but hope that I was the only person chasing this big Coues deer.

I watched the buck through my binoculars for 4 hours that morning and waited until he bedded down for the day. After an hour hike into the canyon, I was looking at the biggest Coues buck I had ever seen. In a stalk that seemed like an eternity, I crept and crawled closer to this small-bodied giant. I took my time, carefully applying all the things I had learned for years on how to make a successful stalk.

As I released the arrow, my heart filled with hope and anticipation! Shaking with excitement, I watched through binoculars as the buck, with a complete pass through, slowly disappeared over the hill. When I discovered the Coues buck I had been hunting for 4 years lying motionless, I was in complete awe. I sat silently for a few minutes, admiring this intelligent animal and reflecting on what a humbling challenge it had been to take such an incredible buck.

Laws and Ethics of Drones & Hunting

drone

I heard an amazing prediction the other day: In less than 20 years every person in the world will have a “pet drone” or at least access to a drone.

What will 10 billion of the things buzzing around the land mean for hunting? Is there any place for a drone in the deer woods? As the technology advances and drones become cheaper and easier to fly, it is inevitable that people will try to find a way to use them for all activities, including hunting.

People already have. State troopers and wildlife cops in Alaska are aware of at least one drone-assisted (and illegal) moose kill, back in 2012.

Other than shooting cool footage for personal video or a TV show (more on that later) I can’t think of any good use for a drone in the deer woods. To me it would not be ethical to fly a drone over the fields/woods where you hunt, scouting from the air and sizing up buck racks (though that would be almost impossible with a drone’s wide-angle camera), or looking for funnels where bucks walk, and then moving in on the ground with a stand for an ambush.

Alaska was the first state to prohibit hunters from spotting game with drones, and others have followed. I expect all states to follow suit with specific restrictions on drones for hunting.

A few years ago, the National Park Service announced that it was taking steps to limit and/or prohibit drones from 84 million acres of public lands to keep the unmanned aircraft from harassing wildlife and annoying hikers, camper and all visitors. Check out the drone regulations before flying on in a national park.

As mentioned, one legal and ethical use of a drone is to get killer TV footage of landscapes, terrain and hunters walking around and glassing, etc. You see it on almost every show you watch on Sportsman Channel, including BIG DEER TV. But even this can lead to potential problems.

Several years ago, one of my former TV producers alerted game wardens in the area that our crew would be out there for a week, flying a drone with a camera attached to it to get some cool footage. We would not be using it as we scouted or hunted, just to film general landscape and hunter shots in the middle of the day.

filming with drone

That was back in the day when a drone was a novelty, and size-wise, big as a small helicopter (above). One evening, the warden in the area pulled up to property where I was hunting and confronted my friend as he waited to pick me up after dark.

“Where the hell is Hanback, I hear he’s using a damn helicopter to hunt, I want to talk to him.” He roared off and said he’d be back. He never tracked me down that week, and I’m glad. We flew the drone on private land and got some good footage, but I was uneasy about it.

We’re always ethical, and authorities are more familiar with drones today, but still it can be a tricky issue, especially on public land.

Lost in all this talk is the hunt itself—the stillness and solitude of the woods, the connection to nature and the land, the anticipation as you sit in a tree stand and wait on a magnificent buck, the sight of which takes your breath…

Who wants to ponder a hunting world with a billion drones buzzing overhead, watching your every move.

Sounds weird, but they say those days are coming. What do you think?

Virginia Buck W/Massive Antler Growth For May Killed by Car

va buck hit mayAs soon as this picture hit Facebook Wednesday (May 30, 2018) my phone started buzzing. Word was this buck was hit that morning on Route 262 in Augusta County, VA.

Knowing I live in Virginia, people were skeptical and asked me if it was legit. The biggest question was, “That’s a lot of antler growth for May, too much maybe.” Many people thought the picture was from another time and state; some even said it was Photoshop.

I did some digging and found a Facebook post from a lady who said this happened right in front of her that morning and “the air bags deployed and hit the driver in the face…he was pretty shaken up but OK…the deer was beautiful. What a start to our morning.”

A local taxidermist in the area sent me the picture and confirmed it was legit, and a local firefighter posted that he “worked the scene, it’s legit.”

Just got this email: Mike: I run a local tire shop and one of my guys was actually the one that hit that deer on his way to the shop that morning. It messed his Cavalier pretty bad and shook him up for sure. His name is Jeff… He is an avid hunter as well. He would love to see the deer up close after the taxidermy is done. We all would love to see it actually. Do you have any idea what local taxidermist has it? He doesn’t want the deer by any means just a few pictures and to see it up close. 

So, YES this buck roadkill is REAL.

As for that exceptional antler growth this time of year, I refer you to Missouri whitetail scientist Dr. Grant Woods, who told me: “A buck’s rack will show most of its points by June, though tine length is typically less than half developed at this time. Most of the beam length will grow in by late June.

“Those are general rules, but the growth of individual racks varies. Some bucks will show a lot of antler growth early, while others add a bunch to their rack later in July.”

What a beautiful buck that was, and what a damn shame.

Oregon: Thrill Seekers Shoot Deer W/Arrows

doe with arrow in neckI saw this picture on Facebook the other day and it ticked me off, so I did a little digging.

KVAL in Eugene, Oregon, reports: “The wounds hadn’t killed the deer, which were seen walking around with the arrows sticking out of their bodies. Biologists from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife worked with Oregon State Police wildlife officers to track down the deer.They tranquilized the animals, removed the arrows and treated the wounds.

“The deer – an adult doe and a yearling doe – showed no visible signs of infection.

“’Pictures of these deer stuck with arrows have been circulating widely in the media and social media, and understandably, it’s upsetting to see,” said Steve Niemela, Rogue District Wildlife Biologist. “We are happy to say the arrows were removed and these deer have a very good chance of survival.’”

“This is not ethical hunting, it’s a twisted act of poaching,” said Zach Lycett of the Rogue Valley Chapter of Oregon Hunter’s Association. “True ethical hunters respect the animals they hunt and are grateful for the opportunities to hunt. We do not stand for these kinds of criminal acts.”

I am going way out on a limb here and saying this vile act was caused by one or two young people, likely late teens to mid-20s, out for a sick thrill. I have reported on these type of incidents many times in the last 20 years–the criminals almost always turn out to be thrill-seeking young men who were not raised as hunters or archers. Why he or they would pull such a cruel act is beyond me, but he/they need to be caught and punished.

Authorities say this is the second time in as many years that deer have been illegally shot with arrows in this area. There is a reward for information on the person or people responsible.

Call the Oregon tip line at 800-452-7888.