Ask The Biologist

Hole in the Horn

Hole in the Horn

By Bob Humphrey

Pockets of air in deer antlers are another strange buck mystery.

QUESTION: I know a guy who shot a buck last fall that had a tubular hole in its antler. I’ve also seen pictures of this before. Can you tell me what causes this?

ANSWER: Tubular holes or pores in antlers are not all that uncommon, but they often generate a great deal of speculation as to the cause. Some conjecture they are caused by burst blood vessels or parasitic fly larvae. My theory, and it is just that, is as follows: Some time early in the growth process, while antlers are still in velvet, there is a minor injury to the soft antler tissue. Perhaps it gets jabbed by a stick or a wire barb, or maybe even bitten by an insect. Because the skin is damaged at that point, growth ceases or slows. Meanwhile, the antler continues to grow around it. The end result is a tubular hole in the finished product.

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Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2020 by Buckmasters, Ltd