Hunting Deer in Velvet: Tennessee Becomes the Latest to Adopt an Early-Hunting Period

Tennessee becomes the latest state to make hunting deer in velvet possible. What makes these hunts attractive and what can a deer hunter expect from early-season deer?

Hunting Deer in Velvet: Tennessee Becomes the Latest to Adopt an Early-Hunting Period

The Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission has adopted a three-day, archery-only hunting period, August 24-26, 2018, for those who dream of hunting deer in velvet. The state joins other states offering early hunting periods including Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Kentucky, North Dakota and South Carolina.

South Carolina is a bit different though. The state isn’t known for trophy bucks, in fact it received a “D” rating for deer hunting from, but it is unique if you’re looking to hunt deer in velvet using a firearm. Most early deer-hunting periods are archery only.

Why Hunt a Deer in Velvet?

It’s just like most anything else. The reasons vary based on a hunter’s motivations. Most are motivated to hunt a deer in velvet because it’s unique. The velvet antlers are fleeting, only lasting a few weeks.

Related: Those Fascinating Deer Antlers

Salt River Hunts, an outfitter based in Kentucky, touts its state’s early deer season and the freedom it affords hunters pursuing velvet.“Good old Kentucky is one of the few states with a velvet season," according to the outfitter's blog. And that means it’s legal, which the outfitter essentially cites as a motivator. “You’ll get a picture in the paper of you and your trophy instead of one that involves a conservation officer and handcuffs. And that’s exactly how it ought to be.”

Others hype the predictability of early-season bucks. Hunters will notice bachelor groups among deer herds during late summer and early fall. These groups tend to follow a consistent pattern involving bedding and feeding and unchanged, reliable travel routes between the two.

Related: Why Do Deer Shed Their Antlers

Preserving the Velvet

Hunting deer in velvet is so common in South Carolina’s low country that Charleston’s daily newspaper, The Post and Courier, offers tips on preserving the velvet.

“If you are fortunate enough to harvest a South Carolina deer still in velvet and want to have a taxidermist do a mount, you should take plenty of precautions. and get the deer to the taxidermist as soon as possible.

“Keep the antlers as cold as possible. The velvet is actually a flesh and you don't want that flesh to go bad.

“Don't spend a lot of time taking photos and take care in handling the deer, especially the antlers. Don't grab the deer by the antlers to take it from the woods if you are trying to preserve the velvet.”

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