Beginners’ Guide To Whitetail Antlers
Whitetail deer antlers have been prized by hunters for hundreds of years. Their quick and repeated growth makes them interesting to both hunters and nature enthusiasts.
How antlers grow
Deer antlers are grown and shed every year. Males will usually begin to grow antlers in late spring. Antler growth begins at the pedicle, the base for antler growth attached to the male skull. Hormones regulate antler growth. Because the antler growth cycle and breeding season coincide, males have sturdy antlers ready to help them establish dominance and breeding rights.
In late spring and summer, antlers are full of a robust blood supply and are blanketed in a soft cover known as velvet. Antlers “in velvet” are very vulnerable to injury. Any cuts or abrasions suffered during this time will likely result in permanently deformed antlers.
While antlers are in the process of forming, they are composed of a high percentage of water and very little dry matter. The small amount of dry matter found in antlers at this time is mostly composed of protein and a small amount of ash or calcium and phosphorus. Toward the end of summer antlers begin to harden. When growth has finished, in early autumn, blood flow to the antlers ends. When blood flow to the antlers ends, the drying of the velvet begins. When the velvet has dried, it is rubbed off. This typically takes about day. The process is accelerated by deer rubbing their antlers on bark and shrubs. With the velvet gone, hard polished antlers remain for the duration of the breeding season.
Unlike their soft counterpart, hardened antlers are composed of a high percentage of dry matter and little water. The dry matter in mature antlers is made of ash and protein. As the breeding season ends, antlers begin the process of falling off. Cells begin to deconstruct the bone holding the antlers in place next to the pedicle. This weakening connection allows the antlers to fall off. Most deer will shed their antlers in late winter. New antler growth begins immediately.
Oklahoma Hunt Club
To learn more about whitetail deer and hunting, call the Oklahoma Hunt Club at 918-633-4589 or visit them at Oklahomahuntclub.com. The Oklahoma Hunt Club is a private club providing all types of hunting, including turkey, deer and small game. For a full list of hunting options and details about the benefits of membership visit Oklahomahuntclub.com today.