Parts of a Deer Antler – Deer Rack Anatomy 101

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Deer antlers are an incredibly fascinating biological phenomenon. The shape of antlers range from very small sharp “spikes” to fantastical typical and non-typical racks. To better understand the parts of a deer antler, we will first examine some basic deer antler terminology, the difference between horns and antler then follow up with the correct name for every part of the deer antler.

Antler Terms

Point: a projection on an antler that is at least one inch long.

Rack: refers to the set of antlers on a particular deer. All racks are divided into two classifications; typical or non-typical.

Typical: typical racks are those antlers that look like a a classic or “normal” rack. On a 10 point buck (a buck with a rack that has a total of ten points,) the buck would show five matched points on each side, and the location of these points would be in typical locations.

Non-typical: non-typical racks, by definition, are racks that do not look normal. They may exhibit unmatched points (for example 3 points on one side and 5 on the other,) they can have points growing off of other points or the points themselves may be abnormaly shaped.

Antlers vs. Horns

Horns are found on mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bison and other game. Horns, unlike antlers, grow all throughout an animals life. If they are lost or damaged for any reason, they cannot be replaced. The surface of horns is made of a keratin, much like human finger nails. They are alive, in that they receive nutrients by blood vessels that are inside the horn.

Deer, like elk and moose, have antlers, not horns. Antlers, are not made of keratin, they are dead bone that grow out of the skull of the animal. Antlers tend to be much longer than horns, and have numerous branches. Deer grow yearly and shed their antlers on a yearly basis. Antler tissue is said to be fastest growing mammal tissue known to man. Even the largest rack on a mature deer is grown in about three to four months!

Parts of a Deer Antler

Pedicle: The base of the deer’s antler, where the antler bone meets the head of the deer.

Beam: The central stem of the antlers, from which all other points arise.

Brow Tine: The first division or point off of the beam.

Bay Antler: The second division (or point above the brow tine).

Royal Antler: The third division on the antlers (or point above the bay antler).

Surroyal Antler: The fourth division or point above the royal antler.

Fork: The end of deer’s antlers, where the central beam divides in two.

Palm: The end of a deer’s antlers where the central beam divides into several points, resembling the human hand.

Crown Tine: A tine growing at the very end of the deer’s antler, the points above the fork or palm.

These terms should help you correctly identify and discuss the different parts of a deer antler.