Why Register?Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.
Welcome to Field & Stream!
Question by stephensfamily@.... Uploaded on December 05, 2009
Well, pronghorns are a goat, not a deer. So they don't drop their horns annually like deer do. They do shed the "shell" of the horn from time to time as it continues to grow underneath it. I'm not sure that this takes place at any given time of year though. One of the funniest wildlife videos I ever saw was a big old antelope buck trying to get rid of one of his shells. That guy twisted and hopped and flipped his head for about fifteen minutes. I can only guess that it must be a source of great relief to be rid the old shell. I have never seen a shed shell in the wild. I think they rot pretty quickly. They do not appear to be bone material like a deer antler. And, of course, the shell is thin hollow material.
antlers drop, horns dont.
I learned something today - always wondered about this. Glad you asked the question. This is the most complete description of pronghorn "horns" I could find, from Mother Earth News:
Unique pronghorn horn characteristic No. 1: The pronghorn is the only ungulate to grow headgear that's classified as horn but which is forked—sort of. A mature pronghorn buck will have horns a foot or more in length (up to a maximum of 20 inches or so), with the tips curled back (enabling rutsparring bucks to strike up into the vulnerable throats of their rivals) and each with a single flat prong, called the cutter, jutting forward from about midway up the shaft (and serving much like the hilt on a sword, to catch and stop the thrusting horn of a rival). Does of the species sometimes have much smaller horns.
Unique pronghorn horn characteristic No. 2: The pronghorn is the only ungulate to grow headgear that's classified as horn but which is deciduous—sort of. Each year, between late October and early December, pronghorn bucks shed the outer sheaths of their horns while retaining the slender inner cores, around which new sheaths have already begun to form. (In fact, the outward and upward pressure exerted by the growing sheaths helps to loosen the old sheaths.)
Unique pronghorn horn characteristic No. 3: hairy horns. On my desk before me now I have the pronghorn horn from my collection (a specimen I obtained, to my wife's disgust, by carving it from the crushed skull of a truck struck buck alongside a remote Western byway several years ago). An inspection of the base of the horn reveals three distinct layers in cross section. The core, as with all horn, is porous bone marrow. Around this core is wrapped a layer of tough, white, cartilaginous tissue. The third, or outer layer looks a lot like thick hairs stuck together with black glue and hardened. Of course, as with most things in life, there's more to it than meets the eye.
The exterior of the horn I have here has a rough, barklike texture except at the tip, which the buck had polished smooth before his untimely demise. Under a magnifying glass, individual, unfused blond hairs can be seen protruding from the hardened black surface, more so near the base, making for, in appearance at least, a hirsute horn. What doesn't meet the eye is the fact that the bulk of the hairy-looking sheath is composed, not of fused hair, but of cornified, or hardened, tissue called epithelium.
The pronghorn is unique in more than its horns. Giving the lie to its scientific name,
Antilocapra americana —literally, "American antelope-goat"—the pronghorn in fact is no antelope at all, nor a goat (though it is commonly called a prairie goat by Westerners), but a unique, exclusively American animal (length of residency: 20 million years) with no close relatives of any sort anywhere on earth. Further, it's the sole genus in its scientific family, Antilocapridae, and the sole living species in its genus. (As opposed, say, to the deer family, Cervidae, which comprises deer, elk, caribou and moose in North America alone.
There are several more pages on the site:
Thanks guys. I had a general idea when just wanted to see if I could narrow it down. I have found several while out pheasant hunting. When I am not hunting with a weapon I am hunting for sheds Its a great way to get the family involved.
Well, that is interesting. I was always told they were a goat. Nice to know I was wrong - at least once in my life.
Oh, another interesting thing about pronghorns is that they really are more or less incapable of jumping. They will fly through a four strand barb wire fence without hardly breaking stride (and that stride can get them going at least 65 mph!). It's quite a sight to see - they turn sideways a bit and shoot right through. Good thing the angus calves are too dumb to learn that trick! The real downside to this condition is that in a hard winter when the snow drifts badly they'll get on a plowed highway and can't/won't get off. I recall a semi-truck that creamed 35 of em at once up on Highway 2 in Montana several years ago. No kidding! Those antelope are a real strange critter, for sure.
They aren't incapable. They just don't like to, it seems. They can effortlessly, but they just don't. I've seen it once.
Fieldandstream.com is part of the Field & Stream Network, a division of Bonnier Corporation.
Copyright © 2012 Bonnier Corp. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.