Antler Development Has Begun in the Hudson Valley
You may have noticed that deer here in the Hudson Valley are starting to develop their antlers.
If you have been fortunate to spot a white-tailed buck in the past few weeks, whether it was out by your garden or running across the road, you may have noticed small, fuzzy antlers forming. Adult male deer shed and regrow their antlers each year.
The soft material that now covers the forming antlers is known as “velvet.” As day length grows longer in the spring months, it triggers hormones that initiate the growth of velvet. The velvet is lined with blood cells that help promote and support antler growth during the summer months. Later this summer, the velvet will dry, and bucks will rub it off leaving hard boney antlers.
By now, the healthiest bucks are putting on up to a quarter-inch or more of new antler a day, with antlers branching and tines developing. At their peak, antlers are one of the fastest-growing animal tissues. Large antlers are driven by both age, nutrition, and genetics, with age and nutrition being the most significant factors in New York.
A yearling buck with short spike antlers in its first year and might grow an impressive 10-point rack by the time he is 3½ years old if given the chance. As you watch the antlers develop on a young buck this summer, consider letting that buck walk when you encounter him this fall. As more hunters choose to pass young bucks, all hunters will enjoy the opportunity to see and take more, older bucks.