Caught on Camera

By Tom Venesky - [email protected]

Now is the time that the big bucks hunters dream about in the fall are just beginning to take shape. This photo taken by Martin Husovich near the Francis Walter Dam last week, while slightly out of focus, brings into focus that this buck is well on its way to producing an enormous set of antlers. It was just a couple of months ago that antlers began emerging from the pedicles, and they’ll grow at a fairly rapid rate through the summer, nourished by a blood-rich velvet coating.

Did you know a deer’s antlers grow from the tip, not the base, and growth accelerates during June and July by as much as two inches per week?

Antler growth is driven by a number of factors, and nutrition is a big one. Protein promotes body growth, which in turn allows a buck to develop a larger set of antlers. Studies have shown a buck’s diet through the spring and summer should average around 16 percent protein to achieve optimal antler growth. Even the antlers have a unique set of nutritional requirements, such as calcium and phosphorous. It derives those minerals from its skeleton, usually the rib bones, and it’s usually replenished later in the year.

Nutrition in addition to age, genetics and ultimately habitat all provide the building blocks to the complex process of antler growth. The buck photographed by Husovich looks to have everything it needs to produce a trophy rack by the fall.

Capture anything interesting on your hand-held or trail camera? A nice buck, bear, coyote or any other wildlife? We’d love to see it. Each week, we’ll run photos from a reader’s trail camera on the Sunday Outdoors page. Email your photo, along with date and area it was taken (township is fine), and any other details to [email protected]

By Tom Venesky

[email protected]