Although most wild whitetail deer in Ohio have lost all or most of their antler velvet by the time season starts, the chance to take a buck with velvet is something on most hunter’s goal list. Private deer hunting provides more opportunities to catch a deer with velvet antlers, but it’s still rare. Why do bucks even have velvet covering on their newly grown antlers?
Antler velvet acts as a protectant to the antlers as they grow and haven’t taken their hardened shape yet. The velvet also helps with asense of touch because it has such highly concentrated nerves and blood vessels. Because it is so sensitive it helps bucks learn the size of their rack.
By early fall the velvet is no longer needed because the antlers have hardened from calcification. Once the antlers have begun to harden up, they are done growing and blood flow ceases to them. Velvet peeling begins roughly 48 hours after blood flow ends but the timeline of full velvet removal varies depending on the deer. Bucks will rub their antlers against trees and brush to get velvet off their antlers. Some bucks can do it in as little as two hours, however, that can subject the deer to a great deal of stress, as well as blood and hanging velvet which some deer can not handle.
More often than that quick peel, deer tend to take 2-4 days to fully remove the velvet. Many deer will also try to find their shed velvet and eat the pieces because it prevents leaving their smell as well as offer a high source of protein. Once antlers are free from their velvet whitetail bucks begin to challenge other bucks for territory and for dominance during rut.
Other states offer hunting seasons earlier enough for a wild buck to be taken with velvet left on but Ohio is just late that most hunters miss out on the chance. Shooting a deer early enough in the season to possibly get a velvet antlered deer means studying eating habits, traveling times, and directions, as well as watching antler progression is key.
If you are looking to improve your chance of shooting a velvet buck, a ranch hunt gives you a much higher chance. Hidden Hollow Whitetail Ranch offers private whitetail deer hunting ready to give you the hunt of a lifetime.