Friday, January 8, 2010

Whitetail Antler Development: Growth To Shedding


Today we take a look at a two year old whitetail buck as his antlers developed last year. With ideal habitat and genetics it is possible for a whitetail buck to grow very large antlers in his second year, but the deer in my area tend toward the small side.

While antler growth is slow throughout April and early May, it accelerates rapidly from the end of May throughout June.

May 22, 2009

By early July the rack has most if not of all of the points that will develop. From now on some smaller points may develop, the points lengthen and become sharper, while the overall mass of the antlers increases.


July 6. 2009

August is one of the best periods to photograph bucks in velvet as the antlers are fully developed.

August 8,2009

Soon the velvet dries out, cracks, and then peels away leaving the buck with a white set of antlers that he will carry through the autumn.

November 18.2009

As we discussed in the last post, this animal lost his right antler on December, 29th. When he appeared on New Years morning the other one was missing.

Jan 1, 2010

Completely Shed
This is only the second time in years of whitetail photography that I have documented a buck from the beginning of antler development through the shedding process as long term survival is difficult for a rack buck. In an unprecedented situation, I went into the year with three bucks entering their second year of antler growth. The first one vanished abruptly in mid-September, the one featured here today was wounded by poachers in early October, but survived to let us witness this process. Strange as it may sound, being wounded may have saved his life as the discomfort from the wound made him stay on the posted property instead of ranging far afield in search of does in heat. The other buck made the fatal mistake of straying across the property boundary in mid-afternoon of the first day of rifle deer season and was taken by a hunter.

For more Camera Critters photographs, click Here!

19 comments:

Heather said...

Very informative! I always learn something from your posts... thank you for passing you knowledge and experiences along to us!

imac said...

Amazing Willard, and the shots are brill too.

Brad Myers said...

Willard, this is why I keep comming back to your site. Like the last post this one is just fantastic from a photography and an informative stand point.

I keep going back to the July 6 photo here, the lighting and setting makes this one of my favorite photos of yours.

Carletta said...

An excellent photo essay Willard!
I don't see bucks very often in my backyard but I'm armed now with the info of when to look for the different stages. :)
Carletta’s Captures.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Willard: What a great pictorial and a neat story of the young buck. Glad he made it through to have another year in the woods.

Perry said...

Great shots of this fellow! How very lucky you are to get to witness the entire "story" this past year. The other thing I noticed are the color and texture of fur changes through the seasons. Very cool and thank you very much for sharing.

Snap said...

Amazing and informative. Thanks, Willard!

Joops said...

beautiful shots!

My camera Critters Post

Kerri said...

Great documentation! It amazes me how fast those antlers grow!
Wonderful shots as usual Willard!

And thank you so much for your comments on my blog :)

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

How interesting, thanks for sharing. Glad one of the 3 survived.

Darla said...

What dedication in following this growth...

rinelle said...

Nice Catch! Mine is up!

Michael said...

Beautiful beasts.

ellen said...

Nice post! :D

Lavender Cottage said...

Your progression of photos with the buck were really interesting.

rinzo said...

Nice entry. god bless.

eileeninmd said...

Wonderful series of photos, my favorite were when the antlers had the velvet.

SaraG said...

Awesome photo's Willard!!

HANNIBAL said...

What a series! I can't believe you documented from beginning to shed with the same buck! Wow and Wow! Thanks for sharing this fascinating series!