Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Ugly Side of Being Beautiful

I wouldn't go so far as to say that he is ugly, but the shedding of antler velvet is a messy business.
A bloody business, too.

 Some folks don't know that the velvet is rubbed off every year.  
It turns out that Texas Parks and Wildlife gets calls from people worried about the bloody deer in their garden.

 The velvet is vascular.  
It covers the antler as it grows and provides nutrients to the quickly growing bone.  When they rub the velvet off in the Fall, the bone (antler) dies, and falls off.
Very much the same way that the bark of a tree is necessary to the life of the tree.  Once the bark dies or is disturbed, the tree dies.
Ironic, since small trees are the main way the bucks rub the velvet off.

 Many small trees are lost to the bucks.  
Once the tree is "ringed"(bark rubbed off, all the way around the tree), the tree can't get any nutrients and dies.
I learned this lesson the hard way.  I now wrap my saplings in pipe wrap and secure it with a couple zip ties.  

I'm sure, for a few days, the dangling velvet is bothersome.  The bucks are always swinging their heads to seemingly get the stuff out of their eyes.  It also attracts a lot of flies.
Once it's all gone, the deer is left with a beautifully polished set of fighting swords.

The loss of velvet means the Rut (breeding season) is just around the corner.  
This poor boy has very little chance in the herd of winning a battle.  
The buck with the biggest rack always wins and I have two 10-point bucks in 'my' herd, and four 8-point bucks.


  1. Poor Spike. Looking kind of scruffy and lacking in antler just as a doe he's trying to impress trots by. Maybe better luck next year.

  2. It is ugly but the antlers are def sweet once it is done. We have a number of nice males in our area the dang city! Anyhow, our country place has some nice ones too. I love seeing them!

  3. We have a HUGE buck...I'm not sure how big...more than four that's for sure. And I've been seeing a couple sweet does in the hay field......


  4. Those are some incredible photos - not too pretty but incredible none the less. Yes, poor Spike!