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Thread: Deer Antlers

  1. #1

    Deer Antlers

    Hi Guys,

    asked a few of the older stalkers i know how deer antlers colour up after the velvet comes off and i've been getting a variety of answers. I always thought they coloured up by rubbing on the trees but after spending a whole afternoon rubbing and rubbing and rubbing some more to try and colour up a head i shot in velvet (starting to clear) with no colour change what so ever???

    Another head i shot in velvet, i stripped the velvet off (again staring to clear) and i cut the antler in half to reveal the inside of the antler was like an aero all full of bubbles - when would these harden up or will some antlers just remain more porus than others???

    Cheers Rob

  2. #2
    From the ones I've cut in the past (red deer) to make walking sticks they have always been porous.

    As for staining up white antlers to mount try a concentrate solution of potassium permanganate dabbed on as required (wear gloves)
    Wingy

  3. #3
    Thanks Wingy - i've got some pp from last year when i coloured up a head but i was more wondering how the deer colour them up in the wild. Is it some sort of reaction when the velvet comes off or is it just by rubbing on trees - if so it must take a lot of rubbing and how do the colour the hard to reach places?lol

    Also wondering if a trophy would weigh more at the end of the season compared to when it has just shed its velvet?

  4. #4
    I think and not 100% but when they rub on trees the sap from a live tree weeps and sticks to the antler this then in turn stains and attracts all sorts of dirt etc and over time they become stained

    Couldn't tell you about trophy weights, something I've never been into
    Wingy
    Last edited by Wingy; 21-05-2013 at 12:38. Reason: Update

  5. #5
    deer colour up from the bark and sap off the trees not sure if anything else adds colour.
    i have had some roebucks that full of sap that the pearling was smooth and sticky you could scrape the sap to see the pearling underneath at the bases, atb wayne

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Bigboab29 View Post
    Thanks Wingy - i've got some pp from last year when i coloured up a head but i was more wondering how the deer colour them up in the wild. Is it some sort of reaction when the velvet comes off or is it just by rubbing on trees - if so it must take a lot of rubbing and how do the colour the hard to reach places?lol

    Also wondering if a trophy would weigh more at the end of the season compared to when it has just shed its velvet?
    If you watch a buck marking, they thrash the ground and trees and do it alot, all day everyday, colouring and polishing at the same time, to colour antlers naturally you will have to go round marking your territory on a daily basis for the next couple of months

    As for the weights at the start of the season and the end, i have heard people say the become more dense, but doubt it is the bone structure changing, and more to do with the antler being sealed and retaining resins from trees, but its very speculative as , unless you can weigh a set of antlers at the start of the season and again at the end then whose to know.

    I prefer shooting bucks in the latter part of the season as when there coloured and polished naturally they make for a more attractive addition to the wall..

    ​Moose

  7. #7
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Rob

    To answer your question on the porous part of the antler, that's called trebecular or spongy bone. It starts as cartilage and ossifies or hardens. Trebecular bone is what gives the antler its length.

    The membranes surrounding this porous core are called cortical, or compact, bone. The cortical bone is much more dense and it gives the antler it's girth.

    As you probably know already, antlers grow from their tip not their base, so it is the trebecular bone that extends from the pedicle each year, surrounded by velvet. As the level of testosterone in the male deer rises, so the coronet at the base of the antler ossifies. This is what causes the blood flow to the velvet to become restricted and die.

    If you cut any antler you will find a thin layer of cortical bone surrounding a mass of trebecular bone. Interestingly, if you take a palmated fallow antler and sand it, you will find that the cortical layer is thin right across the palmation until you get to the points, or spellars.

    The advantage this mass of trebecular one gives the deer is that, for their size, the antlers are actually very light. If they were made up of cortical bone the poor old deer wouldn't be able to lift its head.

    And to think that male deer go through this cycle of antler growth and casting every year.....marvellous.

    Apologies to any vets, doctors, anthropologists, etc for the dummies guide above - any errors, I am the dummy! Oh, and please feel free to correct as necessary!

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

  8. #8
    As Mereside said constant rubbing on bark and heather in the highlands stains and polishes Tanning in the bark provides most of the colour.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by willie_gunn View Post
    Rob

    To answer your question on the porous part of the antler, that's called trebecular or spongy bone. It starts as cartilage and ossifies or hardens. Trebecular bone is what gives the antler its length.

    The membranes surrounding this porous core are called cortical, or compact, bone. The cortical bone is much more dense and it gives the antler it's girth.

    As you probably know already, antlers grow from their tip not their base, so it is the trebecular bone that extends from the pedicle each year, surrounded by velvet. As the level of testosterone in the male deer rises, so the coronet at the base of the antler ossifies. This is what causes the blood flow to the velvet to become restricted and die.

    If you cut any antler you will find a thin layer of cortical bone surrounding a mass of trebecular bone. Interestingly, if you take a palmated fallow antler and sand it, you will find that the cortical layer is thin right across the palmation until you get to the points, or spellars.

    The advantage this mass of trebecular one gives the deer is that, for their size, the antlers are actually very light. If they were made up of cortical bone the poor old deer wouldn't be able to lift its head.

    And to think that male deer go through this cycle of antler growth and casting every year.....marvellous.

    Apologies to any vets, doctors, anthropologists, etc for the dummies guide above - any errors, I am the dummy! Oh, and please feel free to correct as necessary!

    willie_gunn
    Wullie_gunn, very informative, do you know, if there is any structural change in the bone once the blood supply has been stopped and the velvet shed, as in the question from BigBoab about the weight change, ie the cortical bone (look at me know i know the word for it) thickening at all or the porous part getting more dense?

    ​Moose

  10. #10
    SD Regular willie_gunn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by moose View Post
    Wullie_gunn, very informative, do you know, if there is any structural change in the bone once the blood supply has been stopped and the velvet shed, as in the question from BigBoab about the weight change, ie the cortical bone (look at me know i know the word for it) thickening at all or the porous part getting more dense?

    ​Moose
    Moose

    I'm afraid that will really need someone smarter than me to give a detailed response.

    As I understand it, though, antler growth and structural change is effectively completed well prior to the shedding of velvet. The cortical bone thickness is determined earlier in the antler growth cycle than the porosity, which means that the thickness of the hard outer bone won't change whilst the initially ossified cartilage inside is still being replaced by the trebecular bone. I believe the mineralisation of the antlers hits a peak about 2/3 of the way through the antler growth cycle - though I can't recall where I heard that?

    Tests of trace elements have shown that blood circulation through the antler effectively halts once the ossification is complete, as the trace elements failed to make their way through the antler. Strangely, though, when the antlers are cast the pedicles will show blood. What all this means is that once the antlers are free of velvet, and when they are used for fighting during the rut, they are basically dead bone that is sitting external to the body.

    That's a long way of saying that, once the velvet is shed, you wouldn't expect to see much change in the density or weight of the antlers themselves.

    As I say, I am sure someone more experienced on the site can give a more accurate explanation.

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

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