Deer are amazing creatures. Each of the 37 species are unique and magnificent. As deer evolve, populations grow and decline, or trauma impacts these antlered beasts, odd outcomes show up. They can be black, brown, white, and spotted.
Antlers are the headgear that male deer use to attract females, fight for dominance, and protect themselves with. Deer must regrow their antlers each season. The deer’s head has spots called a pedicle. The beams and spikes begin growth at these sites. The pedicle allows for a highly vascular bone to grow. These antlers begin growth soon after the previous year’s antlers are shed.
During the long days of Summer, ample nutrition allows for antlers to grow up to 1 ½ inches a day. Antlers are covered with a matt or scab called Velvet. This highly vascular material feeds and grows the antler. When the days begin to get shorter, the blood is cut off and the Velvet is lost and falls off. Deer will often eat this unique food source.
Once the Winter arrives and the antlers are no longer needed, they shed or fall off. Each year means a different rack. The antlers get larger until the age of 6-7 years. They then begin to get smaller. Horn is not the same as antler. Horn is more like a fingernail material, that grows in layers, and is rarely shed. No deer grows horns.
Many things can make the antlers look unusual. Old injuries and wounds can cause one side of the rack to be desiccated or smaller. When antlers are growing, they are soft and can also be bent or shaped. It is not unusual for an antler to bend and grow back into the deer’s skull.
Symmetrical antlers can be nearly identical on both sides. They can also be damaged or broken when fighting with other bucks. Non-typical bucks have weird and odd antlers gone wild. This is often a Genetic trait. Albino, all white deer, or Black deer are also a Genetic twerk. Piebald deer can be multicolored with white, brown, black, and blended colors on their hides.
Some deer can have no hair and display other oddities. Unicorn deer have shown up in recent seasons across the country. Antlers from unique deer are often used as medicine and aphrodisiacs in some countries. Antlers also make great tools or weapons.
Occasionally, does can grow antlers. They can still reproduce, and the antlers never lose their Velvet. North America is home to Whitetail deer, Mule deer, Key deer, Sika deer, just to name a few. The size of mature deer can be from 30 pounds to well over 300 pounds. Deer related critters such as moose or elk, can grow to 1,000 pounds or more.
These amazing critters are what fed, clothed, and help pioneers, and native peoples survive. With intelligent management and seasonal hunting, deer will be around for many years to come.
Deer hunting is a challenging sport and requires skill to harvest them. Scent, stealth, camouflage, as shooting, and patience are needed. Deer are high in protein and make for tasty food. The pursuit of deer has become an annual ritual for hunters across the country.
Big deer have become Big Bucks for businesses and communities. The annual hunting season brings family and friends together to enjoy the hunt. Deer art, antlers, and leather decorate our homes, and excite us about how special and unique theses critters are.
Be safe and enjoy the best that Deer season has to offer.