Alsheimer: Deer Antler Velvet – Big Bucks Are Losing It!

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Alsheimer Deer & Deer Hunting

Peeling antler velvet can be one of the most stressful times in a buck’s life. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

Over the next two weeks northern whitetail enthusiasts will be in position to witness one of the most amazing sights in nature, the peeling of velvet from a buck’s antlers.

When bucks peel velvet from their antlers the process can take anywhere from an hour to several days to complete. Outside of a fight-to-the-death with another buck, the velvet peeling process is one of the most stressful things a buck experiences. I’ve witnessed the process many times in my career and the calories that a buck burns is amazing. It is highly dramatic as the buck thrashes its antlers against brush and small saplings. If the peel is complete within 1-2 hours the buck is completely exhausted.

An amazing aspect of velvet peel is that most bucks will eat the bloody velvet if they can find it. The velvet does contain a large amount of protein. But, the most common belief as to the cause of this behavior is that it’s a way to keep from attracting predators that would be drawn to the scent of blood and decaying velvet.

Once bucks peel their velvet, they often expand their territory and begin making some of the first rubs and scrapes of the season, as the days grow shorter and further away from the daily patterns of summer living.

– Charlie


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