Over the course of the summer male deer grow bones out of their head. The boneheads might be on the other end of the rifle, though, having just spent the price of a small car to outfit themselves to go hunt down some free meat.
Okay, I jest.
Hunting season opens soon, and there are guys around here counting the hours. The bucks are still in velvet, haven't really fattened up yet, and the weather is too warm to hang a deer up to age the meat, but that is not going to stop the vast majority of hunters and huntresses interested in some red meat to pack into the freezer for winter. Me included.
Antlers are the fastest growing bone in the animal world, but our little Sitka blacktail deer here in Southeast Alaska don't have big, heavy, trophy racks like mule deer or whitetails. But then the bucks only average 120 pounds....in the round.
Yearling bucks in Southeast Alaska are usually either "buttons" or "spikes."
And when this guy grows up he won't have to take any grief off of his sister.
Twins hang together for a year or more, and sometimes get on each others' case just like kids. But they kiss and make nice, too.
Spikes have two neat little antlers poking out of their head. Usually.
As those antlers grow under their layer of velvet-covered skin the does become very interesting.
And the chase is on.
I have been seeing bucks and does paired up for a month now. Of course relationships may change as daylight hours decrease, the bucks flood with testosterone, and their velvet is shed off to reveal sharp, burnished tools for competition.
Right now, though, the the antler structure is growing fast, and isn't strong yet. As those antlers reach their full size for the year the bone will fill in and harden.
Such sleek, majestic creatures!
But there are exeptions...