Deer with bright red raw looking areas where antlers had been

Seeing red: QT, the morning after losing his antlers (click to enlarge & see details)

“Yikes! That looks painful,” I thought, when QT, our oldest resident buck, came for his regular morning visit one day earlier this month.

We’d seen him the previous afternoon, but since then he’d shed his antlers – revealing ruby-red, raw-looking mounting points (pedicles), each the size of an old-fashioned silver dollar. (I have not added any saturation to the photo, which I took through our window.)

Columbian black-tailed bucks shed their antlers every winter, so I’m used to seeing “our boys” sans headgear for a few months each year. But I’d never seen such freshly exposed pedicles before.

Thankfully, within a couple of days the mounting points lost their redness and seemed to harden up, looking like painless brown scabs rather than open wounds. Now, three weeks later, you can hardly notice them at all.

Once spring arrives, I’ll be watching with interest as QT starts the whole antler-growing process all over again.

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer focused on nature and nautical on the BC coast

6 responses »

  1. pattilee says:

    Wow. I haven’t seen this. I’ve learned something today. Thanks. Patti

  2. Taking Time Photography says:

    That is amazing! Something I haven’t seen before. I guess it is something similar to a child losing his baby teeth. I wonder if he had to use a branch like a piece of string to get that final pull. Ouch!!! 🙂

    • Thanks for the comment, glad you found it interesting.

      As for your question…I don’t think so. From what I’ve been able to learn, there are specialized bone cells that develop as the buck’s testosterone levels drop (which happens each winter), and these cells weaken the attachment until the antler just drops off. They’re akin to specialized bone cells that we humans have, which enable bone tissue to break down and reform after we break a bone. Apparently the loss does not hurt the buck. But it does look like his head could feed rather tender and vulnerable at first!

  3. Susan Yates says:

    Whoa, I haven’t seen one this raw-looking before, either. Speaking of deer, do you get Hakai magazine online? Good article on deer this past Friday… Susan >

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