New Forest Wildlife Photography

Deer antlers growing “velvet”

During the late spring and early summer the antlers of male deer grow at a surprisingly fast rate. The previous year’s antlers will have been shed (known as casting) in early spring, but by late summer will already have grown again, even bigger and with more points than before. When you think of the size of a large red stag’s antlers re-growing entirely in about 3-4 months it’s not surprising that the rate of growth can be as much as an inch per day!

This happens for both Red (pictured) and Fallow Deer so if you’re out in the forest in May and June don’t be surprised to see male deer with antlers that appear to have a soft covering. This is known as “velvet” and it’s actually soft tissue, filled with blood that hardens to produce the final antler bone.

It’s quite sensitive so you won’t see the stags or bucks clashing antlers at this time of year, if there’s an argument they’ll use their legs! Later in the summer the stags will rub the velvet off against trees once the bone has hardened underneath and by August all the males will have their full new “rack” displaying proudly ahead of the autumn rut.