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When and How Bucks Shed Velvet

mini beast

trail cam mini beast

This is a picture of the Mini-Beast Buck last night, which means he stripped the velvet clean off his rack one day last week in late August. The bottom picture is of Mini-Beast with growing velvet antlers in July.

The best description of the velvet-shedding ritual I have ever read comes from the research book Way of the Whitetail by Leonard Lee Rue III:

Usually in the last week of August and the first week of September, the bucks begin to peel the velvet from their antlers. Mature bucks often peel four to five days earlier than the younger bucks, but I have seen younger bucks peel first on many occasions. Whereas up to this point the bucks have done everything possible to avoid hitting their antlers against anything, now they rub saplings vigorously…

The shortest time I have seen it take a buck to remove the velvet was just a little over one hour; most of the time it takes at least 24 hours. Frequently the velvet is removed from the main antler beam but hangs in shreds at the base. These sheds infuriate the deer because they flap back and forth in front of his eyes every time he moves and interfere with his vision. The buck will vigorously rock his head back and forth, trying to shake the strips of velvet off. He will try to catch the strips with his mouth and pull them off. I have videotaped bucks using their hind feet to try to scratch the velvet loose.


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2014 Hunt Season is Here!

trail cam mini beast

Here’s another look at “Mini-Beast” that a hunter in the Midwest has had on camera for a couple of months. I thought this was a great image, with the other smaller buck hiding in the background.

The sight of this velvet giant has the BIG DEER TV Team fired up as we hit the road for Season 4. We are starting super early this year, with teams hunting and filming from Colorado to Kentucky next week.

Next week… I can hardly believe the season got here so fast!

I’ll be archery hunting the opener in the Bluegrass State, where there’s a 50-50 chance that if I see and get a shot at a big deer his rack will still be in velvet. Or maybe half in velvet and peeling and bloody, a rack like that is cool.

Season 3 of BIG DEER TV is rolling along strong right now on Sportsman Channel, Wednesday nights 10/9c through December. Set your DVR!

Friday shout out to our great sponsors that make all this possible: Remington Arms, Trijicon, Cabela’s, Wildlife Research Center and Yeti Coolers. You have my word that I only promote hunting gear that I use and trust, and these are the best hunt brands on the market. Thanks for supporting our sponsors, and all we do here at BIG DEER.

I’m expecting a big rack year across America this fall–good luck and be safe when you hit the woods. And remember the BIG DEER motto: Hunt hard, have fun and respect the game.

Oregon: Mule Deer Head Found in Truck, 5 Poachers Arrested

oregon poach

From Northeast Oregon Now: Just after 6 p.m. (last) Sunday, an Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife trooper came across a Jeep Cherokee with the driver’s door ajar (at an intersection near Pendleton and the Umatilla River). The trooper noted an empty gun case and ammunition inside the vehicle. About two and a half hours later, another Jeep Cherokee arrived at the intersection with five occupants inside. The trooper observed the occupants were in possession of the head of a freshly killed mature buck mule deer. (Oregon State Police Photo)

Most disturbing is that the poachers ranged in age from 19 to 23. The 23-year-old was deemed to be the shooter and charged with killing the deer out of season and wasting the game meat. (Rifle deer season in Oregon doesn’t start until October.) The others were charged with lesser crimes. One was a 19-year-old girl, who I suspect was along for the joy ride and got caught up in the crime.

19 to 23 years old… We as a society have got to raise our kids better than this!

This is just one example of a wildlife crime that happens all across America this time of year. I post it to remind us all: If you hear or see and can confirm poaching in your area this season, turn the criminals in! Poachers, no matter their age, steal our game and give hunters a bad name.


In researching this story I ran across a 2010 article that revealed a shocking level of deer poaching in central Oregon. State biologists did a study and found that poachers kill almost as many mule deer as legal hunters do. Of 500 mule deer fitted with radio collars between July 2005 and 2010, 128 animals died during the research. Poachers killed 19 of the deer and hunters legally shot 21.

Poaching “is out of hand in Oregon,” said Ken Hand, a regional director for the Mule Deer Foundation. “It’s going on all over the state, 365 days a year… I just hear about it constantly.”


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