Lets talk about one of our favorite subjects: deer antlers! More specifically, deer antler color
and coloring deer antlers
! First, some deer antler basics: deer antlers are true bone and are composed of calcium and phosphorus. The rate of growth per day of 1/4-1/2" make antlers the fastest new cell growth known to man.
What Determines Deer Antler Size?
Deer antler size is determined by three factors:
On average a buck does not reach his maximum antler potential until he is 4-1/2 to 7-1/2 years of age. Once a gnarly old buck is past his prime his rack will have shorter tines and usually what he loses in length will result in greater mass. Every antler tells a story whether it's related to age, genetics or nutrition. Through the years its interesting to have taken enough bucks from a particular area and see first hand all the different characteristics one is most likely to encounter. One subject that does not get a lot of attention is antler color.
Many factors determine deer antler color, including the type of plants/trees the buck rubs his rack on. If you're wondering about coloring deer antlers to look like this nice buck, try starting with burnt umber paint or stain.
What Determines Deer Antler Color?
When a buck is in velvet, his antlers are soft to the touch and full of blood and nerves. In spring, the increase in daylight coincides with antler growth. In summer, bucks are known to live in reclusive bachelor groups and restrict their movements. As summer wears on and day length decreases, testosterone levels begin to increase and the antlers begin to harden. The blood vessels within the antler lose their ability to nourish the velvet, and it dries up. At this point, when a buck rubs his antlers, the amount of oxidized blood left over in the velvet shedding process and the type of tree sap or plant oils result in a chemical reaction that can lead to interesting color variations of antlers.
From my experience bucks out west seem to, for the most part, have darker antlers. Evidence suggests that bucks that are taken in or around recent burn areas tend to have very dark racks.
Why is Some Deer Antler Color Dark and Some Light?
If diet and nutrition alone were a deciding factor in deer antler color
, all deer from the same bachelor groups would sport the same color rack, also taking into consideration where these bucks bed. Some would say the bucks with dark antler color, sometimes referred to as "swamp bucks", are that way due to their reclusive, nocturnal nature. When I think of the fresh spike sheds I've found and younger forked horns I've shot, all had light color antlers.
In summary I think deer antler color
is due to a number of factors, such as the buck’s:
Coloring Deer Antlers
On that same note, quite often we'll find sun bleached antlers and sheds and folks ask what are some techniques for coloring deer antlers
? We have had success coloring deer antlers
with a few methods:
- Coffee grounds
- Tea bags
- Wood stain (try walnut or another dark brown)
- Acrylic Paint (for dark antlers try burnt umber or raw umber, and for lighter racks try yellow ochre with white)
Check out our how-to videos for some helpful videos on coloring deer antlers
Our friends at Tinesup.com
have a product for coloring deer antlers called Wild Antler Magic
that does a nice job. Check them out and you'll see why!
Mountain Mike's is partnering with the California Deer Association
not only discounting product to members but for every $40 you spend at the CDA, Mountain Mike's will donate $10 to CDA. We need to all pull together and protect our hunting heritage, and if Mountain Mike's can assist you in getting your memories on the wall, we can fight together! E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one!