July 28, 2005 Sticker Buck River Bank Velvet 019 (2)

A buddy shot me an email last night saying he’d spotted a buck with a tall rack outside his ears. The hay was too high so he couldn’t count points, but I told him to keep an eye on that dude. His antlers will continue to grow a quarter-inch or more a day over the next month, so he ought to be a shooter. John also said there were lots of little deer running around on his farm, so the fawn crop was good. You learn that kind of stuff by getting out there and going for walks and seeing what you see.

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

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

Because the velvet is rich with blood vessels, growing antler are hot to the touch.

Hairs on the velvet sticks straight out, making the antlers look bigger than they really are. (You have noticed that.) The hairs act as a radar system so the buck won’t bump into trees, fence posts, etc. and damage his new, soft antlers.

A sebum 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.

This fantastic photo was taken one summer day out in Montana by my buddy Lucas Strommen. Luke’s dad, Eliot, killed that awesome buck with his longbow at 10 yards the following November. Use that as incentive to get out there, brave the heat and start looking for a velvet-racked giant to hunt in 2 or 3 months.