When and How Bucks Shed Velvet

mini beast

trail cam mini beast

This is a picture of the Mini-Beast Buck last night, which means he stripped the velvet clean off his rack one day last week in late August. The bottom picture is of Mini-Beast with growing velvet antlers in July.

The best description of the velvet-shedding ritual I have ever read comes from the research book Way of the Whitetail by Leonard Lee Rue III:

Usually in the last week of August and the first week of September, the bucks begin to peel the velvet from their antlers. Mature bucks often peel four to five days earlier than the younger bucks, but I have seen younger bucks peel first on many occasions. Whereas up to this point the bucks have done everything possible to avoid hitting their antlers against anything, now they rub saplings vigorously…

The shortest time I have seen it take a buck to remove the velvet was just a little over one hour; most of the time it takes at least 24 hours. Frequently the velvet is removed from the main antler beam but hangs in shreds at the base. These sheds infuriate the deer because they flap back and forth in front of his eyes every time he moves and interfere with his vision. The buck will vigorously rock his head back and forth, trying to shake the strips of velvet off. He will try to catch the strips with his mouth and pull them off. I have videotaped bucks using their hind feet to try to scratch the velvet loose.


5 thoughts on “When and How Bucks Shed Velvet

  1. Checked my cameras this weekend. On 8-24 I had a pic of a small spike in velvet. On 8-25 he had one hard horn showing. On 8-27 the other side was off. I had pictures of several other (bigger) bucks that haven’t lost their velvet. I found it interesting that the little 6″ spike lost his first. Typically they smaller bucks will still be in velvet into the 2nd week of September around here. Our season starts on Friday. Taking my nephew out to try and get his first bow buck. Good Luck everyone!!

  2. I am still seeing velvet on the horns, but they wont last long. Love Leonard Lee Rue III articles. He is by far one of my favorite writers.

  3. I keep 2 bucks in an enclosure on my farm, I’ve had their fathers and grandfathers as well over the years. The younger buck whom scores in the 140s has shed out first in each of the last 3 years in the last week of August, the older scoring in the 180s at 6.5 years sheds in mid Sept. usually the 2 second week. Interestingly enough that is the order of rack casting as well both doing so in late January and mid February.
    Another fact the more a buck is allowed to breed the smaller his overall rack will be the following year. I’ve had 200″+ bucks that I thought I would use to breed all the does and trust me they’ll get the job done but each time I tried this the following years those different bucks barely broke the 150″ mark.

  4. Also, a huge fan of LLR III. Perhaps the best whitetail book of all-time?? At least one of them, for sure.

    Big Daddy, I think what you said about your stud buck losing antler growth illustrates a great point about different stresses on bucks and how it can affect antler growth in subsequent years. This is yet more proof that herds that are managed for better sex ratios will have more, and bigger antlered bucks. In reality a whitetail buck is only “designed” to breed a handful of does every year. Good stuff.

  5. Saw 9 bucks tonight. 3 out of velvet. Largest still in velvet. Bugs/skeeters on the bottom are driving them nuts and off the bottoms at night.

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