What Are a Deer’s Antlers Used For?
Deer have several uses for their antlers. During the mating season, a buck or bull deer uses his big antlers as a weapon to fight other males for leadership of the herd and to win mates. Any predator (such as a wolf) that dares to attack a deer is also likely to be hurt by the sharp antlers.
Nearly all male deer have antlers. Female caribou and reindeer (cows) are the only female deer that grow antlers. During the long winter, when food is scarce, cows often use their antlers to push other cows away from the best feeding spots.
Deer’s antlers are extensions of the skull grown by members of the deer family. They are true bone structures that usually grow in symmetrical pairs. In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is annual, and is controlled by the length of daylight.
Although the antlers are re-grown each year, their size varies with the age of the animal in many species, increasing annually over several years before reaching maximum size. In tropical species, antlers may be shed at any time of year, and in some species such as the sambar, antlers last several years. Some equatorial deer never shed their antlers.