When Do Elk Shed Their Antlers? Does It Hurt Them?

Sakshi Thakur
Mar 03, 2023 By Sakshi Thakur
Originally Published on Nov 01, 2021
Wild elk in the west
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.3 Min

It is amazing to see the size of the antlers of elks.

If you get to feel and see a pair of elk antlers in your own hands you will be mesmerized. They are so heavy despite how easily the bulls carry them all their life.

The bull elk generally drop their antlers in the month of March. It happens in the second half of the month. This is at end of winter. The shedding happens after the rut is over. Shed hunters must go out in search from early March. If you want to capture a photo of a bull with full-size antlers, do it in February else you may not get a chance.

The completion of mating with a cow happens when the winter becomes mild so this is the season when they shed. You will need to snap a photo before the shedding seasons. In the spring season, since the mating season is over, testosterone levels fall. This causes the antlers to loosen up and eventually fall within a few hours.

This shedding is natural so there is no pain. In the last few hours, the antlers literally hang around. We may feel pain on seeing it when we go out to see the wildlife up close but, rest assured, they are not hurt or in pain. Never go to help an elk when you go out shed hunting. You may cause an injury to the animals. The antlers are going to drop off anyway.

The growing antlers are covered with soft skin that has hair. It is called velvet. This has blood vessels under it. It allows the antlers to grow. These blood vessels carry the food and minerals that are needed for growth. If the antlers are hurt or knocked on a tree during this antler stage, there will be bleeding. The antlers reach full size by the age of 4-5 months.

Even if the elk is bleeding excessively, they do not feel the pain. This is due to the presence of high levels of B-endorphins in elk blood at the time when the antlers are still growing. This hormone helps them deal with the trauma and the pain.

If you enjoy this article, why not also read about when do deer shed their antlers or why do giraffes have horns here at Kidadl?

What time of year do elk shed their antlers?

Bulls shed in the spring seasons after the rut is over.

The shed hunters must use the spring season for hunting the elk sheds in the open spaces where they may get to see the elks. Wildlife has many different ways to deal with pain. God has gifted these creatures with special hormones at different times of the year. Elks shed every year so you will have plenty of opportunities to see bulls with such large antlers.

Elks shed their antlers every year at almost the same time. This occurs after the rut is over. The antlers are made up of honeycomb bone tissue. The testosterone level reduces and the antler tissue starts to break up and loosen up. The whole process occurs in a period of two weeks.

It is astonishing to see that elks do not have antlers in the spring season. When it is the fall season they have full-grown, large-size antlers. Their antlers grow right back again in the month of April, soon after the old ones have fallen off.

The new antlers start to grow back soon. Their special name is velvet. These velvets are made of proteins, minerals, and amino acids. This helps the elk antlers grow fast till their breeding time. These are made up of tiny blood vessels under them. You can see that the growth rate is very fast.

You can get to see elks and other wildlife in the Wyoming national park. Among the wildlife, the local elk are popular. The antler is used by them to protect against hunting, so do not go too close. They are always found in large groups. You can go in search of the elk sheds in this area and find many if you are lucky. Just make sure that the squirrels have not found an antler before you get to the area. They can chew up a pair in just a week.

When do Pennsylvania elk shed their antlers?

Bull elks shed antlers every year in the month of March.

For the bulls in Pennsylvania state, the time is March 10-25. If the bull still has a high level of testosterone and hormones after mating then the antlers grow slowly. When the antlers have grown back, the elks shed off the velvet by scrubbing it against trees in the state park.

During this rubbing, they often injure themselves and there may be bleeding. Do not worry as they have special hormones for that as well. They may be bleeding but there is no pain for them. So, when you go shed hunting, do not help a bleeding Elk if you find one. You may hurt yourself in the process. This natural process is like an antler game for the animals.

Their antlers grow and stay till the next winter. This whole natural process is repeated over and over again each year. The shedding of antlers is not painful for them. Elk sheds can be collected easily every year. Bull elk have the largest antlers.

We know that antlers are pieces of bones that grow outside the body of animals. They grow out of the pedicles of bull elk. Nutrition, genetics, age, feeding, and breed all make the size of antlers vary. They also grow at different paces and strengths for different places based on weather. An antler is different from horns. Horns do not fall off each year. They simply keep growing over the years.

The great game of fighting to win a new cow is rough. Even a big antler is tested for strength in this time. The stronger and bigger bull elk wins. The mating seasons are tough times. These new, big antlers are also used by Elks to protect against predators or hunters during the daytime.

The male elk losing its Antlers

What month do elk shed their antlers?

Elks drop their antlers in the spring season. They grow new ones soon after.

Like in other deer, the time for shedding is in spring. In the northern state, you can see that antlers shed in the month of March. The new set of antlers are covered in velvet. A few may be late in shedding but all adult elks shed by early April. The first set may take a little longer to fall. Also, as the age of the elk increases, the antlers become bigger.

Elks keep in big groups for safety from predators. They can defend themselves with the help of their antlers.

Why do elk bleed when their antlers are shed?

Elks shed in the month of March across the world. It is basically the spring season.

The first elk antlers start to form at the young age of ten months. The growth and shedding of antlers is a natural periodical feature. Shedding is normal for an elk. It is not painful though it does seem so. An elk may bleed when the velvet is hurt.

An elk may be heavily bleeding but they do not feel pain. The presence of high levels of B-endorphins in elk blood at the time when the antlers are still growing helps them cope with the trauma and the pain.

You must look for areas where there is such a blood trail. If you see fresh blood in the day, you will be able to get sheds. Search the area properly on foot. There may be fish holes dug by others in the northern states.

When do elk typically shed their antlers?

Elks shed their antlers beginning in early April after the game of mating is over.

You must try the popular places where the elks tend to gather in the winter to find shed antlers. You may find many of them together in the area around this place.

It is interesting to know that a pair of elk antlers can be worth $50-400 depending on their size. So, if you find many sheds, this will be great for you. Look around on the ground. Do not look up in the high trees. Even if they had been removed by rubbing in the trees, they will eventually fall to the ground. Based on the weight, you can often increase the amount of money you earn. A trophy elk takes ten years to mature.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 'When do elk shed their antlers?' then why not take a look at 'Why do squirrels shake their tails?' or 'Irish elk facts'?

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Written by Sakshi Thakur

Bachelor of Science

Sakshi Thakur picture

Sakshi ThakurBachelor of Science

Sakshi is a skilled content writer with extensive experience in the education industry. With a keen eye for detail and a passion for helping others, she has developed a reputation for excellence in academic content writing. She has worked with esteemed professionals such as Mr. Kapil Raj, a professor of History of Science at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, further enhancing her knowledge and expertise. Sakshi is well-versed in the latest developments in e-learning and has a deep understanding of how to engage students and make learning fun and accessible. In her spare time, she indulges in her creative passions, including painting, embroidery, and listening to soft music. She also enjoys exploring new cultures and traveling, which helps her broaden her perspectives and inspire her writing. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Science from Panjab University.

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