The growth of a whitetail deer’s antlers is a fascinating process that unfolds over several months. It’s a cycle that’s influenced by a variety of factors, including the deer’s age, genetics, and nutrition. Here’s a general timeline of how it typically happens:
Late Winter to Early Spring (February – April): After the old antlers are shed, the antler growth for the next season begins. The top of the pedicle, where the antler was cast, is considered an open wound. This area reacts like any wound, bleeding for a short period and developing a scab-like covering called a “wound epithelium” within 2-3 weeks. Antler growth begins shortly after the completion of the wound epithelium.
NOTE: When a deer sheds its antlers, the area where the antler used to be is like an open wound. Just like when you get a cut, the deer’s body works to heal this area. It does this by creating a protective layer of skin cells over the wound, similar to how a scab forms over a cut on your skin.
When we say “completion of the wound epithelium,” we’re talking about the moment when this protective layer is fully formed, and the wound is completely covered. This is an important step because once the wound is healed, the deer’s body can start the process of growing a new set of antlers.
So, in simpler terms, “completion of the wound epithelium” is just a fancy way of saying “the wound where the antler was shed has fully healed and is ready to start growing a new antler.
Spring (April – May): By the end of April, brow tines and 1-2 inches of additional antler growth should be visible on most deer. In May, look for visible G2’s and antler beams should be at about half their final length.
Early Summer (June): Antler growth should increase dramatically this month, so look for all the main points on the antler to be growing by the middle to end of the month. If a buck is mature, look for a substantial frame at this time of year.
Mid-Summer (July): July is when you’ll really be able to see what kind of headgear bucks will be sporting. Antler growth can explode at this time of year, with growth potentially being as substantial as an inch a day. June is really all about frame, and then in July you’ll really see tine length. By the end of the month, antlers should be very near to fully formed.
Late Summer (August): Growth will continue into early August, but don’t expect a whole lot of new growth once you get into the back half of the month. At that point, blood flow to the antlers will cease and the hardening process will begin. Toward the very end of August, peeling of velvet might begin.
Early Fall (September): Once September hits, the peeling of velvet continues or begins and most velvet will be gone after the first week or two of the month. At this point, each buck has its final, hard-horned rack for the fall.
Remember, this timeline is a general guide and individual deer may vary. Factors such as the deer’s overall health, nutrition, and genetics can influence the rate of antler growth.
For more detailed information, you can refer to the blog post: Why Do Deer Shed Antlers? The Antler Growth Cycle.