Tule Elk in Velvet

A tule elk stands with antlers in velvet.

Tule elk with antlers in velvet, Point Reyes National Seashore

There are three things in the photo above that say it’s spring to me.  The first thing is the flowers.  The second is the change occurring in the elk’s coat from a warmer (longer), lighter-colored, winter coat to a cooler (shorter), darker, summer coat.  The third thing is the early-stage growth of antlers.

During the winter season the Point Reyes tule elk shed their antlers.  Almost immediately after shedding them they began growing new antlers.  Under that velvet skin the antlers are engorged with blood.  At this early stage you can easily see evidence of blood-rich tissue.  Below is a cropped version of the above photo showing the blood-rich tissue.

Close-up profile of elk in velvet

Close-up of Tule elk in velvet

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About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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2 Responses to Tule Elk in Velvet

  1. John Wall says:

    That’s a beautiful shot of the elk, and I love that you caught such an early stage in the growth of what will probably be a huge rack. Did you know that antler velvet is produced commercially as a human health tonic?

    • Jim Coda says:

      Thanks John. No, I didn’t know that per se, but it doesn’t surprise me given that some snake oil salesmen use ground up antlers for similar purposes.

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