Each year when deer grow their new antlers they are covered in a downy velvet which supplies nutrients and blood flow to the growing antlers below. Come the Autumn the antlers are fully grown and the deer will scratch or rub them against trees and rocks to remove the velvet and reveal the antlers ready for the rutting season.
This young Sika deer was probably showing off his first set of antlers this week and although it does look painful it’s probably little more than an itch he needed to scratch.
Between March and May next year he will cast these antlers and begin to grow a new pair. Cast antlers are a great source of calcium and minerals for other animals.