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Can Buck Fawns Grow Spikes?

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"We wondered if it was possible for a 6-month-old to grow horns.

QUESTION: Bob, is it possible for a 6-month-old buck fawn to grow spikes? We have a healthy food supply and good genetics, and believe we've seen a buck fawn with 2- to 3-inch spikes. - Rick W.

Can Buck Fawns Grow Spikes?

ANSWER: Antler growth begins early in a buck's life. Just a few months into its first spring, a young buck's antlers begin growing from a permanent protrusion of bone on the forehead called a pedicel.

We typically don't see them on buck fawns because they're hidden beneath the skin.

By their first autumn, young stag's foreheads are usually adorned with leathery buttons for which they get the name button bucks.

On rare occasions, a buck fawn might sport tiny spikes or bony protuberances scarcely more than an inch or two long.

It is not until their second fall, as yearlings, that bucks typically grow what we would consider a true set of antlers.

Many factors determine the size of a yearling buck's antlers. Late-born fawns, poor nutrition or drought could result in them growing spike antlers as yearlings.

And those spikes could be anywhere from two or three inches to perhaps six or eight inches.

Sometimes older deer with poor antler genetics or poor diet might continue to grow spikes.

Having said all that, anything is possible. While it would be extremely rare, I would never say fawns never grow spikes.

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