This buck stood up from his bed in shoulder height grass during the last of the evening light as I was starting my walk out of the woods.
The word gnarly seems to be a good fit as a descriptor of this bucks set of antlers due to the burrs/bumps (AKA – “pearling”) that extends from his bases all the way up his brow tines and the ends of his main beams which are serrated in appearance.
Typically the pearling nodules are localized to the bases of the antlers and not carried up the brow tines. There are several theories regarding the purpose or cause of the pearling on a set of antlers, one of which claims them to be remnants of blood deposits leftover from velvet/antler growth, but there is not a general consensus among biologists.
This old buck has definitely seen better days, from the tear in his ear to his thick sagging torso and arthritic walk.
The deformed tine on his right side is most likely the result of a minor injury during velvet growth/development, and be from something as simple as bumping that area on a low hanging tree branch. Interestingly, a body injury can affect antler growth and cause deformities as well. If a buck were to break a hind leg the opposite side antler growth is usually deformed, but studies have shown that a similar injury to a front leg does not have as strong of a correlation.
This young buck was in the middle of shedding his lighter summer coat for a thicker winter coat in late September. Unbeknownst to him, there was almost a month of 90°+ days remaining before the first cooler fall temperatures would provide relief from the summer heat.