Alsheimer: White-tailed Deer Antler Velvet Peeling Gets Ugly

By Charles J. Alsheimer

Alsheimer Deer & Deer Hunting

There can be a dangerously ugly side to peeling velvet. (photo copyright Charles J. Alsheimer)

As a nature photographer you never know what you are going to find when pursuing whitetails with a camera. Early one morning in September 2010 I came upon one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen in the wild, when I photographed this buck as it tried to get his antlers untangled from a cattle fence wire.

The buck had been attempting to peel its velvet on thick brush that overhung a pasture fence, and in the process his antlers became tangled in the fence wire. Though I wasn’t there to witness the beginning of the buck’s near-death ordeal, I could see that he had managed to break a long strand of wire as he attempted to get untangled. In the process, some of the 20-30 feet of wire became woven around its antlers, with the balance tangled around nearby brush.

Fortunately this story had a happy ending. I was able to contact a local veterinarian on my cell phone, and within an hour he was on site to tranquilize the buck so we could remove the wire from its antlers. How often this happens is anyone’s guess. But one thing is certain; this buck would not have survived much longer. He would have died an ugly death.

– Charlie

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