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Columns - Monthly : BowTech Bowhunting Tips
Last Updated: Aug 6, 2010 - 1:11:39 PM
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Sponsored by BowTech Archery

Antler Growth & Abnormalities
By Shane Renard
Aug 5, 2010 - 6:29:39 AM

Let's face it, we all are turned on by antlers. But in this month's BowTech Tip, Shane Renard talks about when growth goes wrong.
Notice the pedicles starting to form.

Let's talk a bit on antler development. Antlers grow in the spring and summer months. The pituitary gland is stimulated to produce a hormone (IGF) or known as (Insulin Growth Factor) by the photoperiod. In this response antlers begin to grow with the aid of high protein diets found on your property. The whitetails are on their way to a health start. During this time, the soft growing antler is covered with velvet.  When antlers are in the velvet stage they are full of thousands of blood vessels, cartilage and nervous tissue. Growth of antlers is very rapid and some deer are capable of growing nearly 1 inch of antler per day.

Antler abnormalities are Pedicle injuries, Main beam injuries, and Body Injuries. Pedicle injuries are commonly from a blow on the head at birth, or in the womb.  Injuries to main beams are habitually found in the earlier months of the year while in velvet. Bugs getting under the hairy like membrane from a scratch found on the antler causing holes or other obstructions. Depending on what time of year and where on the main beam the injury has occurred will tell you if this injury is going to be affecting the tines or the entire beam. Now body injuries are more severe to the entire beam. Injury to a front leg can or will affect the entire rack or maybe just one side. A car accident, arrow, or bullet will injury and sometimes not kill the animal. Now a body injury can or will sometimes cause the rack to be mutated or to stop growing entirely.

The whitetail has an impressive rack regardless of the injury he has sustained.

Antler Physiology is a big break though to understanding growth. Velvet antlers are high in water and low in dry matter. 20% dry matter & minerals. Antlers are composed of 80% crude protein, and 20% ash, 22% calcium, 11% phosphorus. The rest is 80% organic material.  Compositions of hard antlers are very different. Hard antlers are low in water, high in dry matter. 60% dry matter and minerals. 40-45% crude protein, and 54-60% ash (25-40% calcium and 19% phosphorous). 40% organic material.

This information helps us understand the complex whitetail that we chase and sometimes don't harvest. Good luck to you in the woods and please be safe and have fun in the field my friends.

Visit Shane Renard at:


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