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Arts and Culture

Discover Nature: Deer Rubbings

Missouri Department of Conservation

Have you spotted any marks on trees in your yard in summers past? These grooves are an indication that the white-tailed deer is a neighbor of yours. This week on Discover Nature brought to you by the Missouri Department of Conservation we learn about deer rubbing.

This common Missouri deer is named for the bright white undersurface of its flag-like tail. Whitetail bucks form and shed antlers each year. Antler growth starts in early April or May. During the growth period the antlers have a plushlike quailty, giving this stage the name of velvet. Velvet is actually a soft tissue that has a lot of blood vessels in it. Blood pumping to the end of the antler is what allows it to grow. During the growing period, the antlers are described as "being in velvet."

Full antler size is reached in August or September, shortly before the breeding season. The velvet begins to shed, or dry and peel, exposing the underlying antler structure.

Bucks are quite aggressive during this time, and rub their antlers vigorously against trees, vines, brush or any other object that suits their fancy to help remove the skin.

These rub marks left on trees are a great way to track deer and know if they live near you.

Discover Nature is brought to you each week by your Missouri Department of Conservation.

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