A few days ago I received the following e-mail from my good friend Michael:
I, and I think a lot of others, are starting to use trail cams. I recently got a bunch of photos of bulls in velvet. I was wondering if you know of any articles that discuss antler growth and how far along – say 50% or whatever – a bull would be at this time of the year. If you know of such an article, I would love to see it. If you don’t know of one, I would be interested in seeing it on elk101.”
Attached were the following pictures:
I’m sure there are articles out there, but I figured we’d ask our resident Trail camera expert, Mr. Steve Chappell. Here is his reply:
That’s an excellent question. Trail cams are fun aren’t they?!
The antler growth is going to depend on the age of the bull. At this point in the year (mid-July) a mature 6 point (4 years or older) will already have a full 6 point rack that looks really good. See attached photos and notice the dates. Big bulls shed earlier (early to mid March) so they get a head start on their antler growth. If you are getting photos of bulls in late June to early July that look like they have a long way to grow, then the bull is young and not a mature, trophy bull. He won’t become a 6 point if he isn’t already.
My rule of thumb is this; You can always tell big bulls by the third week of June. A big bull can already have a good 80-90% of his growth done by then. For the 3 to 4 weeks of growing time left, the big bulls will “tip out” – Their points will continue to grow longer and sharper. The big bulls will shed typically from about August 10th-20th.
Hope this helps to answer your question. Good luck and enjoy your trail camera!
And the accompanying pictures from this summer…