Lets be honest with ourselves, we all love antlers. There are a myriad of amazing reasons why we all love to hunt, but we can’t deny that antlers are part of our addiction. I’m sure many of you would agree that there is a stark difference between the excitement you feel when you see a doe walk in and the utter breakdown that occurs when you see a big rack approaching. But as amazing as antlers are to behold, they are equally as impressive specimens of nature. So lets examine a few interesting facts I have come upon in regards to that object of our affection that we refer to as antlers.
– Antlers typically grow over a 150 day period and can average over an inch of growth per day! This makes antlers the fastest growing tissue in the world. When they harden and die, they are also the fastest deteriorating tissue known.
– A deer’s antler growth is controlled by the photoperiod, aka length of the day, and hormones.
– When antlers are growing, they are covered in velvet, which is a network of blood and nerves. Velvet transports oxygen and nutrients to the growing antlers.
– Antlers grow from the tip outwards, but when they eventually harden, it is from the base up.
– By 1.5 years old a buck will typically reach 10% of it’s antler potential, this number rises to 25-35% at 2.5 years.
– A hardened antler is 50 percent to 60 percent mineral, with the remainder mostly protein. The most prominent minerals being calcium and phosphorus
– Deer get the necessary minerals for antler development from their diet and something called “bone resorption”. Which means that minerals are taken from the deer’s existing skeletal structure to supplement the antler growth. Supposedly ribs and shoulder blades contribute the most.
– Unbeknownst to me until today, deer velvet is being marketed and sold as a nutritional supplement to humans! Benefits of deer velvet as a supplement reportedly are improved immune system efficiency, athletic recovery time and sexual performance. Who knew!? haha
Its getting to be that time of year when bucks are sprouting quite noticeable headgear. So get out there and enjoy the marvel of antler growth and the beauty of the deer that surround us.
Also for a timeline of antler growth throughout the year, check out this previous post. The Antler Growth Timeline