Each year the bull elk start their antler growth around March 10th, and finish growing and hardening their antlers on August 10th or so. So they have five months to grow to impress the cow elk with their health and vitality. Once the antlers are complete, the soft hair covered velvet starts to dry and peel off in the span of just a few hours.
Shedding their velvet is the first change bulls see before the elk rut. That very day the velvet sheds, bulls can start sparring and judging their size and dominance. Winner takes all just a few weeks later.
Yellow Wood Guiding