The velvet gloves are coming of Ohio’s bucks, so to speak.
Over the next several days Ohio’s male white-tailed deer will begin to scrape off the blood-rich velvet sheaths that have nourished the growing antlers.
And these antlers now are in a stage where they are no longer “soft” but have begun to harden. Later in autumn these antlers will become formidable tools that bucks will use to impress interested does and intimidate other bucks.
Antler growth begins early in the spring with velvet “bumps” starting as early as March, says Damon Greer, wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
“That’s when the antlers begin to rebud,” Greer said.
These antlers also are among the fastest-growing tissues; from start to finish the entire process may take only six months with maximum daily growth being up to one-half inch.
Greer did say also that a 18-month-old buck deer born in the early part of spring will lose its velvet sooner than a buck that was born later in the spring.
“That might even transfer into later age, though I’m not entirely certain,” Greer said.
What is sure, says Greer, is that this is the time of the year when a buck’s testosterone levels are increasing, culminating in what’s commonly referred to as the “rut.”
In Ohio the peak of the rut is a few days either side of Veteran’s Day. This is when the bucks are most likely to encounter a doe that is ready to be bred.
“My belief is that the peak of the rut is when a buck is chasing a doe in your neighborhood,” Greer said with a chuckle.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn