THROUGH THE WOODS: Deer antlers

THE SHORTER, COOLER DAYS of fall start the season of the rut for our white-tailed deer. The bucks’ necks swell with increasing testosterone, and their velvet-covered horns have reached peak growth and are becoming very itchy and irritated. The bucks start rubbing the antlers on bushes (like my hydrangeas) and saplings to remove the velvet skin coating the horns. This process also leaves the scent of that buck around his territory and alerts his presence to other bucks and his perspective does. Paw beds are created where the buck acts like a bull, scraping the ground with his front hooves, saying this area is mine.

A week ago, I found this handsome big buck with shredded velvet hanging off his bloodied antlers. He was rapidly eating thick clover and occasionally rubbing a hind hoof on the messy horns. There was another smaller buck with him who had removed all his velvet and had pinkish horns and a bloody face.

This week they were there with dry, hardened horns and ready for battle. Sparring matches were getting intense and the smaller buck came charging, engaged horns, and the smaller buck was put down on his knees and ran off. This will continue with others until the strongest buck wins. As does come into estrus they will be followed by bucks and chased for mating.

The smaller bucks don’t miss out completely. While the dominant buck is occupied with one doe the sneaky young buck may rush in and claim another. Brawn doesn’t always win. Motivation and savvy tactics are important too.

Drivers beware from now through December. Crazed deer will be racing across highways with little regard for motor vehicles. Slow down and be alert. At the end of this season the does are hopefully pregnant and left alone while bucks may continue walking nose to the ground scent tracking any doe left in late estrus. Snow can be deep, and they will plod on. The poor bucks have spent little time eating and are thin and exhausted. Antlers are shed and they must start eating and building themselves up for spring, when the new antlers start to form in April and May. Antler size and width are a product of genetics, age, condition and diet. Just like us, they need a diet with complete proteins, minerals, and nutrients.

Deer will seek fertile soils, grass and crops and love our rich gardens. Deer antlers are an amazing work of nature to be admired and appreciated. Shed antlers are gnawed by rodents and other animals disappearing back into the life of the community.

THE SHORTER, COOLER DAYS of fall start the season of the rut for our white-tailed deer. The bucks’ necks swell with increasing testosterone, and their velvet-covered horns have reached peak growth and are becoming very itchy and irritated. The bucks start rubbing the antlers on bushes (like my hydrangeas) and saplings to remove the velvet skin coating the horns. This process also leaves the scent of that buck around his territory and alerts his presence to other bucks and his perspective does. Paw beds are created where the buck acts like a bull, scraping the ground with his front hooves, saying this area is mine.

A week ago, I found this handsome big buck with shredded velvet hanging off his bloodied antlers. He was rapidly eating thick clover and occasionally rubbing a hind hoof on the messy horns. There was another smaller buck with him who had removed all his velvet and had pinkish horns and a bloody face.

This week they were there with dry, hardened horns and ready for battle. Sparring matches were getting intense and the smaller buck came charging, engaged horns, and the smaller buck was put down on his knees and ran off. This will continue with others until the strongest buck wins. As does come into estrus they will be followed by bucks and chased for mating.

The smaller bucks don’t miss out completely. While the dominant buck is occupied with one doe the sneaky young buck may rush in and claim another. Brawn doesn’t always win. Motivation and savvy tactics are important too.

Drivers beware from now through December. Crazed deer will be racing across highways with little regard for motor vehicles. Slow down and be alert. At the end of this season the does are hopefully pregnant and left alone while bucks may continue walking nose to the ground scent tracking any doe left in late estrus. Snow can be deep, and they will plod on. The poor bucks have spent little time eating and are thin and exhausted. Antlers are shed and they must start eating and building themselves up for spring, when the new antlers start to form in April and May. Antler size and width are a product of genetics, age, condition and diet. Just like us, they need a diet with complete proteins, minerals, and nutrients.

Deer will seek fertile soils, grass and crops and love our rich gardens. Deer antlers are an amazing work of nature to be admired and appreciated. Shed antlers are gnawed by rodents and other animals disappearing back into the life of the community.

Comments are closed.