You’ve heard of bucks that stay in velvet, but what about a buck that’s just off schedule?
QUESTION: There is a buck on our hunting lease that has been visiting our feeders for three years. He stays in velvet at least a month to a month and a half later than all the other bucks on the lease. What would cause him to shed his velvet so late? — Michael E.
ANSWER: There are numerous possibilities. We are taught that, at least among vertebrates, there are males and females; and they are distinctly different. Although uncommon, mutations do occur, which creates the possibility for almost anything in between.
It is possible a mutation, disease or injury occurred, resulting in a delayed response to dwindling day length, a detail that signals it’s time to cut off the blood supply to growing antlers. The lack of blood causes the velvet covering to die and peel off.
Other than that, your buck appears quite healthy. I’d view this as an opportunity rather than a problem. If you can get out during the early bow season, you might get yourself a rare trophy. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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