QUESTION: I'm from Northeast Pennsylvania and wonder when a bucks antlers stop growing. They usually begin rubbing in early September here.
- Bill L.
ANSWER: Deer antlers will stop growing 21 days before the autumnal equinox, which this year occurs at 09:04 AM Coordinated Universal Time on September 23, 2011. Just kidding, sort of. The cessation of antler growth, like so many other patterns in a deer’s life is influenced by photoperiodism - the change in the amount of daylight. As summer ends and fall begins, the rate of change accelerates (to about three minutes a day), stimulating an increase in testosterone. This, in turn, causes cessation of blood flow to the antlers, which then harden as the velvet dies and peels off. Precisely when this occurs can vary with latitude, health and even age. In northern latitudes the mean is probably around the first week of September (again, this is an estimated average) with older bucks often shedding earlier than younger bucks. And as soon as they shed, they start rubbing.