Monday, September 17, 2012

Phenology: Buck Past Velvet

I recently obtained the first evidence of a White-tailed Deer buck without velvet in 2012.

These clips were taken on Sept. 8, 2012.

September is the primary month in which buck White-tailed Deer rub the velvet from their antlers in preparation for the rut (although there is variation in this date, and velvet may be rubbed off as early as late August, or as late as November).  The triggers for this rubbing behavior are the result of a battery of hormones, but changes in testoterone levels (often triggered by changes in daylength) are important.  For example, according to Miller et al. (2003) the "hardening of the antler and shedding of velvet are a direct result of rising testosterone levels cued by shortening daylength."

Compare this to the first hint of antlers since this year, way back in April.....

Literature Cited:

Miller, K.V., L.I. Muller, S. Demarais. 2003. White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus). In Feldhamer, et al. Wild Mammals of North America: biology, management, and conservation (second edition). Johns Hopkins University Press.


  1. I've noticed that bands of bucks still hang out together even after the velvet is gone. I'd think that maybe their rising testosterone levels would start the rivalries among bucks typical of the rut season... Perhaps it's all relative, and testosterone levels get even higher closer to the rut.

    Great clips!

  2. I saw a buck a couple of days ago with a little bit of velvet hanging. Most of it was still attached though. Nice educational post (all of yours are:)! I've never really paid attention to the time factor in relation to rubbing velvet off.


  3. Thanks, KB!

    I wonder if it's just as you said....maybe the young bucks aren't pumping enough testosterone for them to start getting after eachother.

  4. Thanks, Bill!

    I enjoyed your leucistic sparrow post recently at The Rural Path.

    This seemed a tad early for rubbing off velvet to me....but I realized I had nothing to back this thought up with (aside from a "gut" feeling....which is the same organ that is often interested in eating things that will kill me someday, so I don't trust it :) ). So I double-checked what Miller et al. said, and September is the primary month, accoridng to their review.

    I'm used to seeing velvet getting rubbed off in later September....but I'm not a hunter, so I don't keep tabs on this type of phenology as well as some.