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Growing Antlers

Journey at Home Day 37

Male deer hang out a lot on our property at this time of year. They eat. They sleep. They eat. They sleep. This is the time of year that their antlers are growing, so they need to eat a lot. The grass is green and lots of other yummy things grow near it, like miner's lettuce, clover, and a variety of small flowers. The antlers can grow up to 2 centimeters a day. It's the fastest growing bone and that requires lots of energy. If you look closely, you can see the two nubs growing on this small buck.

The antlers are covered in velvet, which supplies nutrients to the growing bone. When they reach their final growth state, the velvet will fall off, helped by the bucks rubbing their antlers on trees. Then later, during the rut, the bucks will rattle their antlers, a few of them butting heads. They never seem to be too enthusiastic about fighting, as it is pretty obvious who the biggest buck is. None of the others seem to want to mess with him. One year, they'll have their chance.

All this eating and antler growing makes the bucks less skittish than at other times of the year. When I walk on the property, they take a second to look up. But if I don't approach them, they go back to eating. Lately, they've been sleeping in the field in front of the cabin.

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