I normally do not try to educate others on wildlife as I myself am always learning but today's post will be a little different. You see lately with the seasons about to change a Christmas song has been going through my head but with different words, I have had "visions of Elk dancing through my head". In less than a month I will be heading north to photograph the Elk rut in Pennsylvania. This will me my second year doing so in Pa. and I look forward to the sounds, sights and friends. This all got me to thinking about the bulls in velvet which brings me to today's post.
The photographs are not cropped the way they normally would be but are done so to show you the velvet on an Elk's antlers. The racks on an Elk are called antlers and not horns because they shed them each year and grow a new set. If an animal keeps theirs for life they are called horns. Once an Elk begins to grow his new antlers they are covered with velvet. The velvet is a vascularised skin which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. Once the antlers reach their full size the velvet begins to die off and fall from the antlers. The Elk will rub their antlers on tree and other items to help remove the velvet. The first three photographs were taken this June when the antlers were still growing. Because of vacation and other commitments I did not make my August trip north this year to see the Elk shedding the velvet. When Shane and I made the trip in mid August last year the mature bulls had already shed their velvet or only had small strands remaining on their antlers. At that time the only bulls left with velvet were the young spike bulls shown in the last photograph and taken last August. My next trip north the velvet will be all gone and the bulls will be competing for the cows in mating season. I can't wait for this annual trip.
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