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Thread: Hummel

  1. #1

    Hummel

    A question for the experts and anyone else that has 2 pence worth. Is a Hummel Red stag antlerless due to its genetics and is it infertile? Just wondered what the perception was?

    Cheers
    GT

  2. #2
    my understanding is that in a hummel something is switched off that would normally allow antlers to grow they sucessfully hold hinds and can easily be overlooked when stalking for stags. They often seem to lead a charmed life and can attain significant wieghts.They leave stag calves with normal heads, but I imagine it is a recessive gene that will occasionally throw a hummel stag. In some areas hummels are reasonably commonplace in others a rarity. I think red deer as a species show quite alot of variation in type/style and what we sometimes flag up as unusual ( white blaze markings ,spotted coats ect) is really just normal variation.

  3. #3
    Great question Grouse Track. I think there are a couple of reasons why hummels don't have antlers, firstly they can be born that way and it is in their genetic make up, and secondly if they don't get the sufficient nutrients as a calf that can also play a major part. Hummel stags are just as fertile as hard antlered stags and generally gain a heavier body weight due to the fact that the nutrients normally used for the make up of antler are taken on in the form of weight.
    Just my two pennies worth.
    ATB 1995rs

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by 1995rs View Post
    Great question Grouse Track. I think there are a couple of reasons why hummels don't have antlers, firstly they can be born that way and it is in their genetic make up, and secondly if they don't get the sufficient nutrients as a calf that can also play a major part. Hummel stags are just as fertile as hard antlered stags and generally gain a heavier body weight due to the fact that the nutrients normally used for the make up of antler are taken on in the form of weight.
    Just my two pennies worth.
    ATB 1995rs
    Good Answer 1995rs. I think the second part of your answer is nearer the truth for my two pennies worth. I'll post you your prize.

  5. #5
    It's an interesting question.

    As stated above, not having to grow antlers offers a huge saving in energy. I've read that growing the antler uses as much energy in the year as everything else put together, so a massive investment.

    That, of course, brings us to the question of why deer grow antlers at all if there is such a massive energy advantage to NOT growing them. It stands as clear proof that the females are the sex that drive the selection process in deer (as in humans). Other obvious examples are pea fowl and pheasants, where the female is well camouflaged and the male has bright markings, or some other costly accoutrement.

    The female selection provides the evolutionary pressure towards these tough to achieve, or risky, genetic mutations, to the point that the benefit of extra food or less chance of getting eaten by Charlie is outweighed by the reduced chance of mating succesfully.

    Also, with the true hummel, it is difficult to compete in the rut with those fully antlered heads. In this case the lack of antlers itself becomes highly dangerous. Add to that any hummel spotted becomes an immediate target as a cull animal and the condition becomes highly selected against. I guess the difference in hummel numbers will vary in accordance with the food availability. It would appear to be a far more successful "strategy" in an area where food is tough to come by than an area where food is abundant. It would be interesting to test this theory!

    What the actual physiological drivers are for lack of antler don't seem to be well defined. All the above assumes a genetic basis for antler growth, or lack of. It's just as possible that "nurture" is causative, and a lack of some vital nutrient in adolescence causes it. This would also go to explaining some of the variance noted between areas.

    As with most things deer related, there seems to be little actual research into this. I wonder if I could find someone to fund a PHD on it? Reckon it'd provide plenty of meat for study! (if you'll excuse the pun)

  6. #6
    I hope you will forgive a slight digression from the original post. Here in Meath we occasionally see what might might be taken for a hummel, but which is in fact a castrated red stag. They originate from the Ward Union Staghounds, who have been known to castrate a number of stags to increase the carrying capacity of their deer park. They don't put up the same weight on the shoulder and neck that hummels do. If the castration takes place early enough in life then there is no visible pedicle growth. In other cases a rather untidy mess of short squat antler grows and does not appear to be shed. I've seen about three of each over 20 odd years, including one hummel type about two weeks ago. He was in a mixed party of hinds and juvenile stags. The stags were alternating between poking him in the ribs and riding him like bullocks do. Intriguingly he had travelled about twenty miles out of the hunt country which is not always typical behaviour for a carted stag.

  7. #7
    I've shot a few Hummels in the past, the biggest being 8years old and weighed in at over 22stone [in Sutherland!]

    When I worked in Sutherland, we did get the odd one or two. We had 3 coming into the feed, they were caught up and went down to Fletchers Deer Farm [I think??]
    Now memory tells me that, if the skin on the top of the pedicle is cut in the spring , the hummel will grow antlers?? Can anyone clarify this??

    As said before, Hummels wont throw hummel calves. They will hold hinds.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambislayer View Post
    Now memory tells me that, if the skin on the top of the pedicle is cut in the spring , the hummel will grow antlers?? Can anyone clarify this??
    For a very nice description on antler growth, check here: http://www.wildlifeonline.me.uk/ques...wers_deer.html

    This, I think, is what your memory is telling you:

    In a 1976 paper to the Journal of Experimental Zoology, Gerald Lincoln and John Fletcher presented the results of their surgical study on the Braemar Lodge hummel, which had “rudimentary pedicles” but failed to grow antlers from them during five years of observation. The biologists found that if they amputated the tip of the stag’s right pedicle, the deer grew a complete (albeit stunted) antler on this side (no growth was documented on the left pedicle), which was subsequently cleaned and then cast in the normal way. The stag died shortly after the experiment and dissection revealed a substantial increase in the thickness of the right pedicle compared to the left. Lincoln and Fletcher concluded that hummels weren’t physiologically incapable of producing antlers; instead a failure to develop fully formed pedicles meant that the antlers had no base from which to differentiate. The researchers wrote:
    ... it was possible to induce antler growth in the hummel by apparently simulating the process of ‘wounding’ that naturally occurs at the time of antler casting.
    The biggest deer our party have shot in 22 years (also in Sutherland) was a hummel.

    willie_gunn
    O wad some Power the giftie gie us to see oursels as ithers see us!

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