Richard Moore Outdoor Report: Summer Deer

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RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – South Texas is home to a thriving population of Whitetail deer and some very impressive bucks. Richard Moore shows us this looks like a very good year for antler development.

You just never know what you may glimpse gazing down a South Texas sendero. This time of year you may see a magnificent Whitetail buck in full velvet staring back at you.

The bucks of summer are sporting pristine velvet-clad antlers, but in a matter of weeks some will begin aggressively racking their antlers in the brush.

Each spring in late February and early March, male white-tailed deer begin shedding their antlers, and as increasing daylight triggers hormonal changes new antlers begin to grow.

They are covered in a specialized skin called velvet both for its appearance and soft texture.  The velvet is rich in blood vessels, and the antlers are actually warm to the touch.

The developing antlers draw substantial amounts from reserves in the blood and skeletal system and growth can exceed half an inch per day.   Antler growth in the deer family is perhaps the fastest growing tissue in any mammal.

The swollen racks of whitetail deer look particularly impressive this time of year as they are fully engorged, but as fall approaches decreasing daylight triggers change, which restricts blood flow to the growing antlers.

The antlers then begin to harden, and the bucks start to shed their velvet.  The decreasing arterial flow becomes readily apparent. As the velvet dries, it loses mass and the antlers appear to be tightly “shrink-wrapped.”

Beginning in early September, some South Texas bucks will start to rub their racks in the brush as they scrap off the drying velvet. Their antlers may appear bloody for a short time as this annual ritual commences.

Mid to late September is peak time in deep South Texas for shedding velvet, so you still have a few weeks to get out and see our native whitetails in peak velvet, and this is looking like a very good year for antler development.

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