Ask The Biologist

Growth Spurt

Growth Spurt

By Bob Humphrey

Whitetail antlers are the fastest-growing tissue known.

QUESTION: I saw a buck the other day, and his antlers were already out to his ears. It’s not even July. How fast do antlers grow?

ANSWER: Sometimes even scientists can’t see the forest for the trees. I consulted the two most authoritative books on white-tailed deer, both of which have entire chapters devoted to the subject. They will tell you just about everything you could ever want to know about deer antlers, except what most people would most want to know: how fast they grow.

So I went to a book authored by a couple friends and colleagues of mine, “Whitetail Racks” by Dr. Dave Samuel an Bob Zaiglin. According to them, antlers grow faster than any other tissue except cancer. They cited one study on mule deer that showed antler growth rate during the early period of growth was 0.14 inch per day and by late summer slowed to 0.04 inch per day.

According to the Mississippi State University Deer Lab, peak growth rates occur in June and July, when antlers can increase by as much as 2 inches per week.

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Copyright 2019 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd