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When do roe deer grow their antlers?

Roe deer grow their antlers any time from late autumn or early winter, right the way through to spring. But the exact timings depend on the age of the deer.

First of all, let’s think about an adult buck:

A mature buck will cast his old antlers in the autumn; the older he is, the earlier it will happen. So, the master buck (the dominant roebuck in the area), will most likely shed his antlers in October or November; the earliest I’ve ever heard of is September, but this is very unusual.  Late October or November is the most likely time.

What about the non-dominant males in the area?

The younger the buck is, the later in the year his antlers will be cast. Roebucks in their first year away from their mother are likely to shed their headgear in December, quite often around the middle part of the month.

Now, one thing to bear in mind is this

A non-dominant male isn’t necessarily a young animal. Assuming the deer doesn’t prematurely die of natural causes (this is rare) or is unfortunately killed by a human (much more likely), the life path of a male roe deer will be something like this:

1)   Fawn.

2)   Sub-adult male.

3)   Adult buck (when he’s in his prime).

4)   Old adult male.

In a healthy, well-balanced, deer population, the old-stager is unlikely to be the master buck of the area because the younger individuals will be in better condition than he is, so the elder will be defeated during territorial battles.

So, he will me a non-dominant buck (often living life in an area between the main territories), and will be the first deer to shed his antlers in his community of deer.

So…. when do a deer’s antlers actually start to grow?

Answer - straight after the old pair has been shed.

So, bearing in mind what’s been written above about when a roebuck casts his current antlers, the new pair will start to grow sometime between October and December, depending on how old he is.

An interesting point

There are only two species of deer in the world that can grow two sets of antlers in one year, and one of them is the roe deer.

This is what happens….

Buck fawns sometimes grow tiny, infant antlers, no more than 1 to 3 cm in length in the late autumn — these are very hard to see on the deer’s head, unless you get a close-up view.

These ‘baby’ antlers fall off during the winter, after which their first ‘proper’ set immediately start to grow.

Thereafter, the buck will them produce one set of antlers per year for the rest of his life.

(The only other species of deer that sometimes grows two pairs of antlers during a twelve-month period is the Pere David’s deer (Elaphurus davidianus)).

Male roe deer growing antlers.
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