By now you have seen the velvet antlers being hoisted proudly by the successful hunters that did their homework through the summer. The question was brought up this morning on our Facebook page, “Why are more velvet bucks being killed this year?” Is this an effect of the warm winter we had last year or a sign of a late rut this year? As hunters we tend to believe what another hunter tells us if it’s said with authority, and if they have a few decent bucks under their belt. But the truth is, there is a TON of misinformation being shared so easily and at an alarming rate with the rapid growth of social media. So don’t take my word for it. Take Johnathon Bordelon’s; Deer Program manager and Whitetail Biologist for the Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries.
I emailed Johnathon earlier to day about the possible increase of velvet bucks later in the year and this was his response:
“There is slight variability in velvet shedding within each deer herd. There is considerable variation across the state due to differences in peak breeding. The cycle is controlled by photoperiod. The hypothalamus and pituitary glands are influenced by the pineal gland in response to photoperiod. Hormones released start the antler process. Testosterone is a major influence. Rising testosterone levels coincide with antler growth and eventually velvet shedding. Once testosterone levels fall after breeding season, the antlers are cast and the process starts over. The explanation for late velvet shedding would only be speculative. Photoperiod thresholds are still the drivers of the process. Some velvet bucks are harvested in October each year. Many unknowns, the additional number could be from regional success but if the percentage is greater, it may be tied to later velvet shedding.
Is it simply that more successful hunters are in the woods and more are sharing their kills online? Or is it something else? Per the professional, making an assumption would be pure speculation. Either way a congratulations is in order for a very successful first week of Archery Season to all of you, the Louisiana Bowhunters!
-Justin Lanclos LABH
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