A Velvet Morning

Yesterday morning, while traveling the Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier NP, a pair of White-tailed Deer bucks, both in velvet, were casually walking down the side of the road. Fortunately, I had some room to pull over and the traffic was light, allowing me to grab a few images as they passed me:

White-tailed Deer buck, in velvet

White-tailed Deer buck, in velvet

White-tailed Deer buck, in velvet

While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. Antlers are considered one of the most exaggerated cases of male secondary sexual traits in the animal kingdom, and grow faster than any other mammal bone. Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is later replaced by bone tissue. Once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is lost and the antler’s bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler. Later, the antler eventually falls off and the cycle is repeated the next year.

I had some more great encounters with some of the wild residents of Glacier NP. They will be featured in upcoming posts!

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D body
  • Canon EF100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6, IS lens, shot at 210mm
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 250
  • Aperture f/5
  • Shutter 1/160 sec. to 1/250 sec.



Posted in Mammals, Nature Photography, Travel Photography
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