Whitetail Deer: Goodbye Velvet, Hello Hard Horns

Each year it happens sometime around Labor Day. It’s velvet-peeling time. Velvet peeling typically takes a day or two to complete and if you are lucky enough to catch a buck in mid-peel, it is a pretty dramatic sight. Bloody red velvet hangs like Spanish moss on a live oak until it is torn completely off by a hind hoof or convenient bush.

Antler peeling and a host of other deer behaviors are related to photoperiod or the amount of light transferred through a deer’s eye which then impacts the pineal gland located at the base of the brain. That’s why it happens this time each year.

Some bucks have already peeled and others are peeling as you are reading this blog. Across most of deer country, antler peeling will be complete by late September and about 10 million or so bucks will then begin ramping up for the rut. Necks will swell, breeding equipment will activate, and antlers will be used to shred bushes and trees signaling other bucks that the biggest baddest buck on the mountain passed this way.

It may not quite be deer season but there is nothing like the sight of the first hard-horned buck of the year to get hunters fired up. Within the next few weeks, game cameras across the country will be providing hunters with their first real look at what the bucks they have been watching all summer look like in hard horn. In a week or two we will all be one step closer to doing what we were made to do and that has everything to do with collecting antlers. So pull those cards and take a peek.