June to July (Mid Summer) With the increase in sunlight, growth increases rapidly. This velvet feeds the antlers the vitamins and minerals necessary to build up the bone, and to promote normal antler growth. Antlers sometimes mistakenly referred to as “horns” are actually true bone. As the days get shorter, the pineal gland starts increasing the amount of melatonin produced in the animal’s body. antiaging science go even further and consider the cycle of Deer Antler growth and apoptosis to be potential model to better understand human life stages. Soon after the antler bud has grown for a few days a soft fuzzy fur-like material forms on the bony bud. The crowning symbol of nature that has forever held tremendous appeal. My observation has been that even if a bull damages his antlers one year, he can grow a normal set the following year. Hello Elk Lovers! n? The antlers then undergo an annual cycle of calcification, cleaning, casting and regeneration which is also regulated by the changes in the secretion of testosterone from the testes. The beginning and end of the antler cycle for two-year-old bucks is marked by casting of the old antler. Older bulls shed their antlers the earliest and begin regrowing new ones the earliest. This rise in hormone levels, results in the antlers hardening and the bulls subsequently rub off the drying velvet revealing the hardened antlers underneath. The seasonal onset of reproductive activity (rut) in stags is associated with rising circulating levels of gonadotrophins and consequently testosterone secretion. The adult male elk begin to grow new antlers in spring. Antlers in the velvet can grow up to 1″ in one day! All Rights Reserved. His antlers served to attract and impress cows for his harem, or to fight with his competitors for the breeding rights. I once guided a hunter that tagged a bull that was aged by the Game & Fish at 13 1/2 years old. Antler shedding is the process in which the bucks shed off their antlers completely to grow a new set of antlers. The entire shedding process can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks to complete depending on how active the bull is with his tree raking. Sure as I will never be 7 feet tall and play in the NBA, a bull with inferior genetics for antler growth will never be 400″ or even 350″ for that matter. His antlers appeared to be somewhat stunted as well, but what an amazing memory I have from the experience of this hunt. A bull’s antler growth can be affected by as much as 5 to 10% depending on the severity of drought conditions. Lastly, a bull can have Michael Jordan genetics, reach a mature age, but if he experiences poor range conditions due to drought, he will not grow maximum antlers that year. Looking at September, you’ll find that the moon will be mostly bright during the first week of the month, then fading out and hitting New Moon (no moon) right in the middle of the month (17th). September (Late Summer) When elk antlers are "in velvet" it is the most "nutrient abundant" phase of the antlers' incredibly prolific growth cycle. Within a month, the first tine or brow tine will have begun to form or split off. It contains blood vessels, capillaries and nerves that facilitate the … By that I am referring to the start of antler growth. Historical Literature in both Ch… This is usually a side effect from injury or irregular hormone levels. As you may observe in the photos, I use Trophy Rock mineral supplement to help maximize this process. I hope this article was a benefit to you in understanding the true miracle and process of elk antler growth. In just four months, the antlers are fully developed. During early to mid stages of growth, the antlers are very sensitive and can be susceptible to injury which can result in abnormal antler growth. The deer are very careful not to injure the antlers at this stage of growth, as a blow to an antler in velvet can damage it severely. will have darker colored antlers when compared to bulls that rub on Cedar, Juniper, or Oak Brush. Only males have them and they use them to fight over mating rights. Just what are antlers and how do they develop? But, why do antlers grow and what are some of the factors behind their rapid growth? Once hardened, analysis reveals the antler is half protein and half minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus and trace amounts of about nine others. Shedding happens every year in between the months of January and April. After shedding each year, antler growth begins in late March or early April depending on the age of the bull. Bulls shed their antlers in early winter so every male starts with a bare head in the spring and grows a complete set by mid August when the rut begins. Antler. If range conditions are poor, animals are usually in poor health and body condition is usually poor and antler growth will never be maximized under these types of conditions. In 2020, there will be full moons on August 3, September 2, and October 1 and 31 (a “Blue Moon” on Halloween). Required fields are marked *, “Outside My Window” The buck or bull's energy is focused on growth. Before breeding season, the … This process is not harmful to the elk and the velvet antler is … Bulls will typically reach their peak antler development somewhere between the age of 8 to 12 years. The primary reason for this is that the amount of daylight is much less than what it will be in June. The pedicles are a permanent fixture on the bull’s forehead, and are also the point from which the antlers annually break off. All antlered animals have a velvet phase, which helps antler growth by providing a blood supply to the growing bone. While this particular buck is in the Kerr Wildlife Management Area Deer Pen Research Facility, its antler development is representative of whitetails throughout the Texas Hill Country. While I have had to stay near the phone recently to visit with successful Arizona elk tag holders, some of my friends and family have had the opportunity to do some shed hunting. At this time a bull’s raking is more for showing dominance and taking out aggression due to soaring testosterone levels. The antler growth cycle begins each spring, when the growing bone is soft and encased in what is known as a ‘leathery velvet’. Bulls that utilize darker trees to rub such as Spruce, Pine and Pinion, etc. As I write this article, it is the first week of March here in eastern Texas, and I just got off the phone with someone excited about finding a freshly worked scrape. When complete the rack weighs 25 to 40 pounds and can be 3.9 feet long with a span 5 feet wide.  To reach this size the bone grows nearly an inch a day! The antler growth cycle is complete once the velvet layer has fallen off (usually only takes 24 hours once it begins to peel). Copyright 2020 Kate St. John Sometimes a bull’s body and antler size are enough to intimidate a smaller male but if no one backs down they fight head to head — and can be seriously injured in the contest. Elk Antlers Growth Cycle- Amazing Facts. But, generally speaking, a bull’s antler rack becomes larger and wider the older he gets. Now he is a 164-inch 11-pointer with an estimated body weight of about 240 pounds. At this time, the deer's antlers are hard and durable, making them useful for warding off predators or sparring with other male deer in hopes of winning a mate. April through May (Spring) Antler growth begins from the permanent bases on the male cervid's skull. At times, bucks shed their antlers earlier depending on three factors: age, health, and location of the deer. Antlers receive the nutrients needed for growth through a fur covered skin (called velvet) covering the antlers. The following photos illustrate antler growth for 1 buck from 26 March 1999 through 15 September 1999. During the antler growth period when the antlers are encased in velvet, antlers are 20% dry matter, 80% crude protein, 22% calcium and 11% phosphorus. Your email address will not be published. Consider that a buck’s growing antlers are 80 percent protein. Roughly 70% of the antler growth takes place in the last half of the period, when the antlers of a mature bull will grow two-thirds of an inch each day. We have officially started another year of the elk. A bull must also reach a mature age in order to reach maximum antler growth. It is the fastest growing bone in the world. So it’s reasonable that providing protein and minerals could enhance antler growth. Pedicles are what antlers develop from and are the knobby, skin-covered nubs protruding from the elk’s skull that serve to support the antlers. Researchers have conducted extensive studies on antler growth and, in most cases, this cycle plays out the same way each season. It is at this time every spring, that breeders of elk collect the velvet antler under hygienic supervision. If a bull is spooked he may very well damage his antlers running through trees before they are fully developed. Male elks younger than six tend to have spikes rather than branching racks for antlers. Another reason antler growth is slow in coming during April is the lack of quality food because spring green-up doesn’t normally come to the n… When the antlers start growing, they emerge as a cartridge, which is replaced with bone as they continue growing. It is at this time every spring, that breeders of elk collect the velvet antler under hygienic supervision. Just before the rut begins the antlers stop growing and the males rub off the velvet against shrubs and trees to shed the dead skin.  Below, a bull has shed all his velvet except for a bit hanging from the tip. Bear in mind that many factors are in play when it comes to an elk’s antler size and number of tines, including the bull’s diet and personal rate of growth. What does this mea. The great majority of elk will lose their racks in March, just in time to grow another pair. Elk antler is the fastest growing organ on a mammal aside from the moose antler. The real motor in the cyclical antler growth, according to researchers, is the pineal gland at the base of the elk’s brain. All that is left is for the bull to darken his antlers by rubbing them on trees, brush and the ground. Increasing daylength stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete substances that cause antler growth to start. Your email address will not be published. So, if you’ve been watching a “monster” all summer and figure he’s somewhere around 140-150, you’d better give up on him becoming a 170-inch Booner. Antlers are grown and shed annually from the heads of male deer, elk, moose, and caribou. In traditional Chinese medicine the importance of advancement of good health and the prevention of ill health is in direct disagreement with western medical practice, which is more impressed with the treatment of ill health (Fulder 1980a). The melatonin acts as a messenger and triggers other hormones in a … When elk antlers are "in velvet" it is the most "nutrient abundant" phase of the antlers incredibly prolific growth cycle. The cartilaginous antler is a pre-calcified stage of growth. Antler growth starts at the tip and initially forms as a cartilage, which is later replaced by a bone-like tissue that is similar to a honeycomb. The more in tune you are with the antler cycle of your local herd and their preferred range from late February through early April, the better your chances of finding a trophy. Antler growth accelerates in June and July when antlers can grow a ½ inch to 1 inch per day. Some states manage areas/units for a targeted age class structure. During the rut, a bull will continue to rub and rake his antlers. From the time antlers begin growing in late March through the end of April, growth is minimal. Researching the forces that drive development, rejection and shedding of antlers might help us to better understand growth, development, senescence and death (Huo, Huo and Zhang, 2014). Antlers grow rapidly from their pedicle (base) while in velvet during the spring and summer, as fast as This is a well known and documented fact that gives scientists and hunters both another reason to be fascinated by deer. When considering antler growth, we must remember that antler growth is secondary to body care and maintenance. As a result, the velvet dries up, and falls off. It is amazing to watch bulls antlers develop during the summer. At this point antler growth is complete. This is antler velvet and it is an organ. So both the bull and cow must have the right genes for big antlered offspring. An elk receives antler growth genes not just from his father, but also his mother. When you see elk antlers and realize they’re shed and regrown every year, it makes you wonder, “How fast do these antlers grow?”. It appears low level of testosterone levels are due, in part, to a loss of responsiveness by the testes to LH as well as a low level of secretion of LH during the antler … Only 53 days later, on July 22, the antlers are still in velvet but nearly done growing as shown at the top of this article. Male elk grow and naturally shed a set of antlers every year. A new antler bud grows in the pedicle of the animal’s skull. Here’s a typical bull on May 30 with short antlers in thick velvet, photographed by Paul Staniszewski in Elk County, Pennsylvania.  The velvet is a soft layer of highly vascularised skin that protects the growing bone. Secondly, most bucks are still stressed from the long winter so their overall body is in recovery mode. I have no first hand knowledge of its’ claimed medicinal value, however. The annual cycle of antler development is primarily controlled by hormones produced in the pituitary gland and testes. A healthy bull elk can produce up to 10 pounds of velvet a year! Antlers are a key component of the elk’s (Cervus canadensis) reproductive cycle. If you’d like to see elk sparring visit Elk County, PA from mid-August to October.  Learn more here at the Elk Country Visitors’ Center website. Antler growth begins by a bud forming on the pedicel. They have returned with some nice finds and we are anticipating another great antler growth year for Arizona. I hope you are all blessed in the draws this year and that you find a bull that has grown the kind of antlers that we all dream about! A bull’s antler growing potential is based on these factors; Genetics, Age, & feed quality which influences the bull’s overall health. The antler-growing period is shortest for yearling bulls (about 90 days) and longest for healthy, mature bulls (about 140 days). At this stage, the antler contains a wealth of nutrients, growth factors, minerals, and amino acids. Antlers from bulls which are strictly raised for velvet antler production, are humanely removed approximately 60-65 days into the growth cycle. Photos on this blog are used by permission and are copyrighted material.  If you wish to use a photo please leave a comment with your request. Every year, antlers grow on the heads of deer, elk, moose, and other cervids faster than any other growing bone on the planet. However, velvet antler is harvested before the growth cycle is complete—generally at about 75 days when the antler from a mature elk weighs between 25 and 40 pounds. In most species, the antlers are produced only by males and grow at puberty under the stimulus of testosterone from the developing testes. This is especially apparent in the more arid Southwestern states. After the antlers have fully developed, the velvet is no longer needed, and a ring forms at the base of the antlers and cuts off the blood supply to the velvet. 4 1/2: As you can see his antler growth exploded in one year, quite typical of what takes place between age 3 and 4. If all of these factors come together on a given year, you have the potential for maximum, trophy size antlers. Antlers are counted as part of the skull referred to as a pedicle. This all takes place due to the bull’s hormone levels. After shedding each year, antler growth begins in late March or early April depending on the age of the bull. The bull’s body was thin and poor. During this amazing growth, the antlers can grow up to two inches a day. Shortly thereafter it’s time for our favorite season of all- the rut! Velvet is considered to be one of the fastest growing mammal tissue on earth. Antlers are a key component of the elk’s (Cervus canadensis) reproductive cycle.  Only males have them and they use them to fight over mating rights.  Sometimes a bull’s body and antler size are enough to intimidate a smaller male but if no one backs down they fight head to head — and can be seriously injured in the contest. Shortly thereafter, the antler growing process begins again. In fact the entire culture of traditional Eastern medicine is one of the quest for health rather than the treatment of ill health (Brekhman 1980; Kaptchuk and Creacher (1987)). Older bulls shed their antlers the earliest and begin regrowing new ones the earliest. This miraculous occurrence is why elk antler velvet has been used in the Orient for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. On rare occasion, bulls carry full racks up to six months after the average casting cycle, dropping their antlers much later—or not at all. As the summer progresses and we approach early to mid August, testosterone levels increase in the bulls. These areas are typically draw only and hard to acquire permits for, as we all know too well! Over 500 pounds of velvet antler is harvested annually at Splendor Ridge Elk Farm. Growth Cycle The annual casting and growth of new antlers is an important part of the whitetail's mystique. Most bulls that survive beyond 12 years will soon start to regress in antler development. It is slow to start, growing from the tip out. Antler growth, when you consider it, is an amazing miracle of nature by our Creator’s grand design. At this time his antlers are shed once again due to decreasing levels of testosterone. Here is how I would break down the moon’s effect on elk hunting for 2020: I typically like to hunt early, and you’ll remember that we had so… That is why if you are shed hunting in March you may be finding larger fresh sheds (“browns”) while at the same time observing smaller bulls with antlers still attached. During the growth period, the pedicle is covered with a highly vascular skin, called “velvet,” that supplies nutrients and oxygen to the developing bones. It seems to be working! The bull’s new growing bone is covered by skin with numerous blood vessels which we refer to as “velvet”. A few months after the annual fall rut draws to a close a bull no longer needs his antlers. Deer Antler Growth Cycle. Antler growth cycles are closely related to sexual cycles in stags and are directly attributable to variations in seasonal photoperiod influencing gonadal stereogenic activity. 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