One of the things hunters like to display on their walls is… antlers. A deer’s antlers are essentially a “trophy” that shows the hunter was able to find and get a deer on their hunt.
The Purpose of Antlers
Why do deer even have antlers? Well, it’s a male thing. Male deer use antlers to show dominance over other male deer. They can use their antlers to battle it out to win mating rights with the female deer of their choice. The bigger and stronger the antlers, the more healthy and robust the male, which helps attract mates.
Composition of Antlers
Did you know that antlers are actually bone tissue? Growth usually occurs in early Spring, and while they’re growing they’re covered with a soft/hairy layer of skin. This is known as “velvet” and it’s there to supply blood and nutrients to the ever-growing antler bone tissue. As testosterone levels rise, the antlers harden. The velvet dries out and strips off. He’s ready to battle it out with other males (bucks) to win over a female’s affections.
After the “rut” (mating) season ends, the antlers have done their job. Hormonal changes cause the antlers to fall off (shed) one at a time. This usually happens during the winter, sometime between December and March. When Spring arrives, the process starts all over– he regrows his antlers.
What happens to antlers that fall off the deer? Since they’re bone and filled with calcium, other animals love to nibble on them. Mice, chipmunks, squirrels, coyotes and foxes will gnaw them to get the nutrients they contain.
Looking to find some shed deer antlers in the woods somewhere? Your best chances are between January and April.