Antler formation is said to be the most rapid growth known in the animal kingdom, but how does a white-tailed buck get such a huge quantity of minerals from his diet and into his antlers so rapidly? They don’t, but they do. Actually, white-tailed bucks get some of the minerals needed for antler growth from their diet and the remainder of the minerals needed from their internal reserves.
Since a buck can’t get all the raw material it needs for this rapid growth of antlers from its food, the deer must borrow it from within its body. In a process similar to that of osteoporosis in humans, minerals are taken from the ribs, sternum, and skull, and redeposited in the antlers. It’s an amazing process and bone density may decrease by as much as 30 percent! It also helps explain why mature bucks can grow larger antlers. Their skeletal frame becomes larger and literally bigger bucks can store more minerals in their bones.
That’s why the big antlered bucks always seem to be the heaviest bucks, because they typically are! That’s why I continually stress sound habitat management on your property that provides optimal deer nutrition year-round.
By about the first of September, antler growth is complete at southern latitudes. Almost as if someone flipped a switch, bucks undergo a rapid transformation. This is marked by a sharp rise in testosterone level that triggers a shutdown of the blood supply to the velvet, which results in velvet dying and being totally removed with amazing speed.
And when I say velvet is lost fast, I mean fast. Velvet can be shed with antlers completely rubbed within a day or two. In fact, I’ve seen a buck with no sign of shedding velvet that was completely rubbed clean within 22 hours!