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When Deer Drop Their Antlers: The Truth No One Told You About

It is natural for deer and other varieties of ungulates to shed their antlers. Every year, this happen several times. After they do this, another set of antlers begins to form on them. Even so, do you know when do deer shed their antlers?

when do deer shed their antlers

When Do Deer Shed Their Antlers

Most of the bucks shed their antlers between the months of January and April. However, this still depends on the various factors. Such of these are their age, the area they are living (latitude, specifically), and even the mating season.

Usually, the process of shedding takes place for two to three weeks. Moreover, there is still the regeneration time that we should take into account. Many experts observe that the regenerative process takes an entire summer to complete.

After a short while, the shedding process starts again. If you are just new to the wild, you should not panic once you see a deer shedding its antlers. It is natural for them. In a short while, you will discover the reason.

Why Do Deer Shed Their Antlers


Antlers, unlike the human nails, are a form of true bone derivatives. Specifically, they are hardened skin, which usually grows in the extremities of the body. On the case of antlers, they are bone-like tissues.

Meanwhile, the term pedicles refer to the mounting points located on the head of a deer. This is where the antlers sprout every time the deer shed them.

The shedding process involves breaking off the antlers from the pedicles. Most of the pedicles start to appear in the first year of the deer. After a year, the deer will develop small shafts. However, the deer will have to wait for its first three years before the shaft can grow branches.

As the deer grows older, the antlers get thicker and longer, too. It will still grow additional branches, but this process slows down as the time passes.

Meanwhile, it is also right to indicate that antlers contain a soft membrane called “velvet.” The velvet is another layer of skin that supplies the antlers with essential nutrients for it to become sturdy and long.

Specifically, the velvet may contain any of these substances: trace minerals, proteins, and amino acids. There is even a Growth Factor component included in the velvet. This is a protein variant that has the same structure as insulin.

After the shedding process, the growth of the antlers is rapid for the first four months. As we mentioned, this usually takes place during summer seasons. During these times, the testosterone (or the male hormone) slows down the growth of the antlers. Once this happens, the arteries and the veins that located inside the velvet constrict. As a result, the nutrient and blood supply of the antlers are cut off.


Because of this, the velvet has to fall off and wither. If you can see a deer rubbing its antlers against thick branches and trees, then it is a sign that the shedding will take place soon. Moreover, you should know that this entire process happens every year, for the rest of the life of the deer.

This is the real reason why do deer shed their antlers. The low levels of testosterone in their body cause the weakening of the tissue and the bone at the pedicle. Once this happens, the antlers are susceptible from falling. The deer facilitates in the shedding process by rubbing its antlers, too. Therefore, it is no surprise that this natural phenomenon happens.

The shedding process is quite quick. It can take place within 24 to 48 hours. Of course, a weaker deer will shed his antlers faster than a more physically healthy buck. Those injured deer suffer the same fate, too.

Fortunately, the shedding does not cause any illnesses or discomfort to the deer. As we mentioned, this is a natural process. Furthermore, hunters and wildlife experts see this a sign of a growth of a deer. Therefore, there is nothing you should worry about.


There are some cases which prove that deer living in different environments will still shed their antlers at the same time. However, researchers told that their diet is one of the factors to why this peculiar phenomenon occurs. Somehow, the shedding of the antlers indicates that it is an innate body program of the bucks.

If a buck is living in the wild, then the shedding process may vary. There are external factors that should be considered. For example, the winter season can delay the shedding. During this time, the testosterone level is high. Meanwhile, nutrition is also a major component of the equation.

The answer to the question “when do deer shed their antlers” is pretty straightforward. However, when it comes to the speed and the factors, the answers could be subjective. Luckily, this process does not affect any hunting game. But still, it is still a useful knowledge once you are out in the field.

Do you have any comments and questions? Ask us! We love to hear from you!

Jim Johnson

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