October Velvet Mystery Bucks

tx travis velvet buck

Got this from Travis:

Hi Mike: Thought you might be able to shed some light on this. We took this deer October 19 on the Texas/Oklahoma border north of Dallas. As you can see it’s still in velvet!  That’s not normal for around here. Any insight on this, and does this change how we plan for the rut?

I emailed back: Did his nut sack look normal or small? If a buck injures his testicles (or if they didn’t drop as he grew) it affects his hormones and a buck might not shed the velvet. Let me know.

From Travis: I finally heard back from my buddy. You called it. The testicles were small and not near what you’d expect. And in a strange coincidence another friend shot this Colorado mule deer buck (below) last week and it was in velvet too! Wouldn’t you know it, his nuts were smaller than grapes and it had nipples. This is a weird world.

CO travis velvet buck

Weird yes, and here’s the explanation.

Commonly called a “stag,” the oddball buck retains the velvet on his antlers due to low testosterone levels. Scientists refer to this condition as cryptorchidism and it’s rare. It can result from a birth defect or disease that causes a buck’s testicles (one or both) not to drop normally. Or, a buck may injure his nuts, say on a wire fence (ouch). Cryptorchidism can occur in whitetails or mule deer.

A stag buck is different, and he doesn’t engage in the seasonal rituals of normal bucks. Cryptorchids don’t rub or scrape in the the rut. They lack the chemical stimulation to express dominance or individualism. Their necks don’t swell. A stag doesn’t shed his antlers; they remain in velvet year-round

A cryptorchid buck is rare, and if you shoot one I’d mount it and have a taxidermist preserve the velvet antlers.

No, a stag buck in velvet in October or November is an anomaly and his presence has no effect on the normal rut.