Each spring the male White-tailed Deer will grow a new set of antlers and throughout the summer the antlers will continue to get larger depending on the bucks diet. By fall the highly vascular tissue (Velvet) will dry up and peel off leaving a hard bone behind. The remaining velvet will be removed by the deer rubbing his antlers on a small tree (deer rub). This all happens because of the bucks’ testosterone levels increasing in preparations for the rutting season. By late December early January the buck will loose his antlers and the whole process will repeat itself the following spring.
Note the right antler is smaller than the left side.
The antler’s velvet is made up of skin and nerve tissues that are soft and easily damaged. While in Texas we observed this deer with its right tines smaller than the left tines. Our guide said “this was caused by an insect infecting the velvet and causing the antler to become deformed”. Apparently this is commonly found in deer antlers and can also be found here in New York State. The following photo shows the deer’s right antler with what the guide called a “blowhole”. This blowhole was the spot where the insect caused the infection in the antler while in its velvet stage.
The back right antler shows a blowhole.
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Very nice shots Tom, I actually have seen a couple big bucks in mid winter with velvet still hanging on their racks !!
11 February 2010 at 8:07 pm
Very interesting post, Tom. Something completely new for me…I love to learn. Thanks.
12 February 2010 at 12:19 am
I’m with kgmom! I didn’t realize that could happen!
12 February 2010 at 10:23 am