Summer Deer Antlers

Here are 4 facts about velvet antler growth I bet you didn’t know. I pulled them from Way of the Whitetail, a great reference book by Leonard Lee Rue III, a top deer researcher and photographer I’ve worked with some over the years:

(1) Antlers are bone, consisting mostly of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and other minerals. Although some of the minerals are taken from food, most of them are sucked from the buck’s skeleton, causing him to develop osteoporosis during the summer.

(2) Because the velvet is rich with blood vessels, growing antlers are hot to touch.

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

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

5 thoughts on “Summer Deer Antlers

  1. A miracle that most non hunters even realize that all antlers drop and are replaced each year. Think of the mass in elk or moose antlers…..

  2. Cool facts. I never saw that buck again after I took those pictures of him…he had two little bumps where there should be double drops the next year! I love looking at bucks in velvet, pretty cool.

  3. I agree with Luke…bucks in velvet are great to look at!

    As for the facts, I did not know #1 about the osteoporosis. I wonder just how fragile the skeleton gets…will jumping over a fence put them at risk for a broken limb, or does it still need to be a pretty extreme action? hmmm.

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    Country of excess, Brazil accumulated superlatives: the bay of Rio, one of the most beautiful in the world, dominated by the Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer, the legendary beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the Iguazu Falls among the most impressive in the world, the Amazon rainforest, the lungs of the planet, and the indomitable Queen Amazon River.

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