('Tidbits' are small items of information about nothing in particular)

Cattle and goats have horns. Deer and elk have antlers. What are the differences between the two?

Horns are 1) made of bony core covered by a thin layer of keratin, the same material as your fingernails; They are 2) slow growing and permanent; 3) they are not shed each year; 4) they are usually grown by both sexes; and 5) usually grow in yearly 'rings' that mark the animal's age.

Antlers are: 1) fast-growing bone that is shed each year. 2) Usually grown only by males (both sexes of caribou grow antlers); and 3) often branched (but the number of points does not signify age).

About Antlers

 Each spring, male deer and elk begin growing antlers from bony bumps on their skulls called pedicles. Increasing daylight elevates the level of the hormone testosterone in the animal's blood, which triggers the growth of antlers. Antlers begin as layer upon layer of cartilage that slowly mineralizes into bone. They are light and easily damaged until they completely mineralize in late summer. A soft covering called velvet helps protect the antlers and carries blood to the growing bone tissue. If you look closely at a deer or elk antler, you'll see grooves and ridges on it. These mark the paths of veins that carried blood throughout the growing antlers. The blood stops flowing to the antlers in August, the antlers finish hardening, and the velvet falls off or is rubbed off. The hardened antlers are composed of calcium, phosphorous and as much as 50 percent water. An antler grows faster than any other kind of bone. It can grow up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) a day during the summer. Biologists are studying antlers in the hopes of learning the secret.

   Have you ever heard or read about ANTLER INDEX and wondered what it means? Read on.
   Of the Arkansas bucks killed in 2004-05, 45 percent were 2.5 years old. Age is one of the key factors to antler growth. An age of 2.5 years is about when a buck’s antlers start to show their potential.
   The AGFC sums up a buck’s antler characteristics in an "antler index." This is a numerical value that encompasses the sum of all antler measurements, such as tine length, inside spread, outside spread and total number of points. The average antler index statewide is 38-39, Gray said.
   Typical antler index for bucks killed in the Mississippi Delta is 44. Average for the Ozarks is about 37 but last year it was 40.5. The Ouachita Mountains (39), the Gulf Coastal Plain (37) and the Arkansas River Valley (37) held average.

One thing that has always intrigued me is why antlers are fish-belly white in some areas; almost black in others. Certainly the amount of calcium in the soil can make antlers lighter, but what makes them darker?
This possible answer was given to me by a biologist working for the Oklahoma Fish & Game department: in areas where there are lots of evergreens (cedars, pines, etc) antlers may be darker. Evergreens contain resin, which is sticky and holds dirt. Bucks which rub on those type trees will work that dirt into their antlers while they may still be 'fresh' immediately after velvet shedding. Hence the dirt imparts the darker color.

On an average deer field dressing removes about 22 per cent of body mass. Thus a field dressed carcass that weighs 110 lbs. means that animal weighed about 141 lbs. 'on the hoof'.

500,000 - whitetail population in the United States in 1900.
34,000,000 - whitetail population in the United States today.
3,200,000 - number of whitetails in the state of Texas.
11,000,000 - the number of hunters in the United States today.
1,300,000 - number of deer hunters in Pennsylvania (most in the U.S.)
8,250 - number of deer hunters in Rhode Island (lowest in the U.S.)
256,000,000 - number of days hunters spend afield annually.
140 - gun hunting days for whitetail in South Carolina (most in U.S.)
7 - shotgun hunting days in Illinois (shortest in U.S.)
$20,900,000 - total annual hunting-related expenditures.
3,000,000 - average annual whitetail harvest in the U.S.
150,000,000 - pounds of meat - from 3,000,000 whitetails.
$40 BILLION DOLLARS - amount  hunters and fishermen contribute to the annual economy.
16 - Number of states permitting the use of magnifying scopes on muzzleloaders.
80 - Percent of hunters reporting treestand accidents who were not wearing safety belts.
90 - Percentage of nighttime visits to scrapes by bucks in a north Georgia study.
4 - Number of teeth in a fawn's mouth at birth.
65,000 - Approximate number of hunter safety/education volunteers in the U.S. today.

The GESTATION PERIOD of the whitetail doe is about 200 days.
+In the South, where winters are mild, many whitetails have a year-round range of less than 1,000 acres.
+Well-nourished bucks start growing their racks in April-May. Antlers can grow more than one-half inch per day!
+If a buck breaks his right hind leg; he is likely to grow a 'freak' left antler the next spring. This is known as the 'contralateral effect'.
+An 'average' Dakota whitetail buck may weigh over 300 pounds/a Florida Keys buck may weigh less than 50

Top running speed of a whitetail (40 mph); Top swimming speed of a whitetail (13 mph); Average tail length of a whitetail (10.6 inches); Average number of pounds of vegetation a whitetail will consume in a single day (7); Number of stomachs a whitetail has (4); Average life span of a whitetail under unhunted conditions (10 years); Average number of times a whitetail defecates in a 24-hour period (13).

whitetail deer
Whitetail deer are the most sought after game animal in North America.

Today the whitetail is also the most widespread deer in the world. Scientists recognize 30 whitetail subspecies in North and Central America, and another 8 in South America. North America's whitetail population is estimated at 20-25 million animals. The whitetail is by far the most popular game in the U.S., chased by some 11 million hunters each fall.

Deer usually inhabit a relatively small home range, unless weather conditions force them to temporarily move elsewhere. Thus, deer in northern states have larger home ranges, since the winters are often long and brutal. Some northern deer travel 50 miles or more to suitable winter ranger. Weather is not the only factor that impacts on a herd's home range. For example, most whitetail deer in Colorado or Kansas have larger home ranges than deer in Virginia or Alabama. Out West, the habitat is more sprawling and open and the doe densities are not as high as in the Southeastern states. Thus, western deer are forced to move longer distances to feed, bed and breed.

The lifespan of a whitetail is 11 to 12 years (17 to 20 years in captivity). But most free-roaming deer do not live that long; they are hit by cars, succumb to disease, killed by predators or shot by hunters. In heavily hunted areas, many bucks live only 1˝ or 2 ˝ years. Deer grow to about 6 feet long and stand 3 to 4 feet high. They are reddish or grayish in color, depending on their habitat and the time of year. The weight of whitetails varies, from 100 to more than 300 pounds.

Overheard from a man in camouflage viewing the Monster Whitetails display along with his wife; "see hon...I told you that some of them have horns!"

DISCLAIMER FOR THE FOLLOWING POST - Bob Robertson of Jonesboro is an avowed gun nut, long-term married man, and often shares those little tidbits of information with me about nothing in particular. With apologies to our lady readers, and especially to Bob's wonderful and long-suffering wife Tammy, I include Bob's latest offering:

(1) You can buy a silencer for a handgun.
(2) You can trade a .44 for a .22, and probably get a little money to boot.
(3) You can have one handgun for the home and another for travel.
(4) If you admire a friend's handgun and tell him so, he'll probably let you try a few rounds with it.
(5) Your primary handgun doesn't mind if you have a back-up.
(6) Your handgun will stay with you, even when you're out of ammo.

The following occurred after an older gentleman cruised thru a stop sign and got pulled over by a local policeman. Fellow hands the cop his driver's license, insurance verification, plus his concealed carry permit.

"Okay, Mr. Smith," the cop says, "I see your CCW permit.  Are you carrying today?"
"Yes, I am."
"Well then, better tell me what you got."
Smith says, "Well, I got a .357 revolver in my inside coat pocket. There's a 9mm semi-auto in the glove box.  And, I've got a
     .22 magnum derringer in my right boot."

"Okay," the cop says.  "Anything else?"
"Yeah, back in the trunk, there's an AR15 and a shotgun. That's about it."

"Mr. Smith, are you on your way to or from a gun range...?"
"Well then, what are you afraid of...?"

The oldtimer replied "not a damn thing..." 

Top 10 States for Deer Collisions
   Some states experience more collisions with deer than others. According to claim statistics from State Farm -- which insures more vehicles than any other company in the United States -- the states with the highest number of accidents involving deer between July 1, 2005 and June 30, 2006 were:

(1) Pennsylvania (2) Michigan (3) Illinois (4) Ohio (5) Georgia (6) Minnesota (7) Virginia (8) Indiana (9) Texas (10) Wisconsin.

    White oak acorns are produced from the blooms that were formed in the spring of the same year the acorns are produced. Red oaks acorns are formed from the blooms that were formed in the spring of the YEAR BEFORE. It takes red oak acorns two years to mature vs. one year for white oaks. The number one killer of an acorn crop is a late frost that kills the blooms in the spring. Number two is drought.

On virtually any whitetail deer rack one side has a tighter curl than the other. When a buck sleeps, he lays his head on the ground, with the weight of his head and rack resting on the bottom antler. During summer the soft, velvet-covered antler takes on the deformity.
    Prevailing wind in that area causes deer to sleep on one side more than the other (facing the wind); hence a tighter curl on one side. The bottom antler of a sleeping deer is often larger than the top one. This is due to the increased blood flow. The top antler, on the other hand, 'falls asleep' and becomes somewhat undernourished.