This past Sunday I observed these two Whitetail Bucks sparring with their velvet antlers. This was at the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. This is my first time seeing Bucks doing this while still in velvet. I also saw both of them rubbing their velvet antlers on a sapling. A buck in velvet is sensitive and extremely protective of his antlers. I am thinking that these Bucks are getting close to losing the velvet on their antlers and they must not be that sensitive.
While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. When the antlers are growing, they are full of nerves and blood vessels.
By mid-August, most of the antler growth for the year is done.
By late summer, as day length decreases, testosterone levels begin to increase, the antler begins to harden. The blood vessels within the antler itself begin to lose their ability to nourish the velvet, and it dries up and falls off.
Whitetail Velvet Bucks Sparring - Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge - Oklahoma
Whitetail Buck Rubbing Velvet Antlers - Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge - Oklahoma