Friday, November 13, 2009

How Much Do You Know About Antlers?

This morning a beautiful buck walked casually across our back yard, solo. A little guy without much muscle tone. Probably a young dude. But, (and here's the interesting part) he had a pretty big rack of antlers. Large enough that they looked a bit out of proportion with his body, which is probably a huge drag for him. Imagine hauling around an oversized coat rack on your head. Doesn't sound like much fun, does it?

Anyway, before writing Buck Fever, I might have wondered at this awkward ratio of antler to deer. Now, however, after having done lots of research for my novel, I know a few interesting tid-bits about white-tailed bucks and their antlers. How much do you know? Try the quiz below. Why not? P.S., the answers are at the bottom.

1. Do white-tailed deer grow new antlers every year or do they keep the same antlers for their entire lives?

2. What determines the size of a rack of antlers?

3. What are antlers made of?

4. What is velvet?

5. What happens to antlers after the bucks shed them?


1. White-tail bucks grow a new set of antlers every spring and then shed those antlers the following December.
Confession: I always thought that male deer grew one set of antlers that they lived with their entire lives. Yes, I did wonder why I rarely saw deer with antlers from January through March, but never mind that.

2. The buck's age and his diet determine how big his antlers will become each year. So, apparently, the little guy strutting across my back yard was eating well. I'm guessing lots of veggies.

3. Antlers are made of bone. They grow out of the buck's frontal bone. Sometimes on a male fawn, or baby deer, you can see "buttons" where the antlers will develop.

4. Velvet is the furry skin that covers and protects the antlers while they are growing. Once the antlers are full-grown and hardened, the velvet dries up. The buck rubs it off or it simply falls off.

5. Antlers decompose or other animals eat them for the calcium (think of dog chewing on a bone). Or, sometimes, people find them, collect them.

Okay, how'd you do? Did you get all of the questions right? Well, before writing Buck Fever, I wouldn't have answered any of my questions correctly. So, as long as you enjoyed my little quiz, you get an A. Now, go out and share what you now know about antlers.

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