I met these two fine young males at Aransas National Wildlife Refuge a couple weeks ago. I’m basing my super-scientific age guesstimate on the fact that they are near the end of their antler growing period and only have small racks.
In case you didn’t know, antler growth is controlled by photoperiod (length of day) and typically starts in March. Testosterone levels begin to rise in August, as the days grow shorter, which signals the end of antler growing (just in time for mating season).
Did you know that antlers are the fastest growing tissue among mammals? In just 120 days they can grow over 200 inches. That incredible spurt requires excellent nutrition which is provided by the vascular tissue (aka velvet). As the antlers harden, the velvet is shed, becoming a highly nutritious snack scavenged by all manner of wildlife.