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How Much More Will Whitetail Antlers Grow?

Brow Tines and Backstrap

How Much More Will Whitetail Antlers Grow?

Posted 2023-06-30  by  Mike Hanback

With several weeks before they shed velvet, bucks will add lots of inches from July through mid-August.

I looked off my back porch this morning and saw a deer feeding on weeds on our recently mowed lake berm. He was 300 yards away, and although I could not count tines, I couldn’t miss the tall, thick, velvety beams. One glimpse through my binocular made it clear this was going to be an above-average to exceptional deer for this part of the Virginia Piedmont. My excitement grew as I realized the rack had a good six to seven more weeks to grow. How much bigger will those antlers get?

Image: ImageBy_Tony_Campbell_whitetatil_buck_velvet_growth

Deer still have some inches to pack on yet. Image by Tony Campbell

July: Zoom Month for Antlers

Velvet antler is the fastest-growing tissue in the mammal world. In midsummer, each beam and tine might grow a quarter-inch per day, the process driven by a buck’s hormones, photoperiod and the availability of good forage.

According to Missouri whitetail scientist Dr. Grant Woods, a buck’s rack will have developed most of its points by mid-June, and most of the beam length will fill in by late June into early July. “Those are general rules, but the growth of individual racks can vary,” he said. “Some bucks will show a lot of antler growth early, while others will add a bunch to their rack during July.”

July is the zoom month. Right now, fast-growing velvet antlers have a complex system of blood vessels that causes them to be hot to the touch.

“There is so much blood carrying protein and minerals to a buck’s antlers that even a small rack is easily detected by thermal imaging devices,” Woods said.

That’s why I’ll do a lot of night scouting with a thermal monocular this month, monitoring the antler growth and movements of my target lake buck. I use the thermal optic primarily for predator hunting, but it doubles nicely for deer scouting on sultry July and August nights.

August: The Velvet Winds Down

Sometime during the first 10 days of August, velvet antlers begin to turn from soft and pliable to hardened bone.

“A buck’s antlers will change from looking swollen and bulbous at the tips of the tines to a more normal and streamlined diameter,” Woods said. “Once this change in appearance occurs, the buck won’t add much more beam or tine growth.”

By the middle of August, most of the antler growth for the year is done. Sometime between Sept. 1 and 15, bucks shed the velvet, and the fun begins. With the fur off their racks, bucks are ready to preen and spar in anticipation of the long-awaited rut. And we’re ready with our bows and arrows to get out there and get after them.

Which reminds me. I’ve already hung one tree stand on the lake berm where my target buck is coming out of the nearby woods, and after another six or seven weeks of scouting and glassing I’ll likely hang a few more. If my projections are right, the lake buck I’ve got eyes on will go 150 inches — maybe more.


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