Have you ever taken a velvet whitetail in OK? Same thing. The tips will be soft, but will harden. The main beam will be fine and not bend or break. They will easily blood stain, but it washes off easily.
We get Caribou in even the first week of Sept that have Velvet on their antlers.
We have also removed velvet on Bou taken in July & had no problem with them, BUT>>>>>>>>>> Don't let the velvet set for more than a week before you remove the velvet or the blood inside the velvet & INSIDE the Antler Core will Spoil & it will smell worst than a dog fart for a LONG TIME.
If they are deffinately going to be stripped I do it the day you kill it.
This does 2 things: The blood will not be spoiled or pooled to one side of the antler, causing heavy stain.
& they will be done seeping blood & be dry enough to handle without getting blood all over the truck or airplane.
After you remove the Velvet they will be Pure white, & within an hour or two they will turn Blood red & continue to bleed for a couple days .
If you just leave the blood alone & let them dry , the color will actually change in just a short time to a nice stain color that is natural.
As for damageing them , the only places you have to watch is the tips of the antlers because until they dry they can snap off easily.
The main antler beam is Really flexible even on Hard horn bou.
I've only shot one half decent caribou and it was early in a longer moose hunt. I didn't know what to do with the antlers and they looked so cool in velvet. I took lots of pics which preserved the memory of the hunt, but peeled the velvet off sitting around the campfire that night as it had slipped anytime I touched the antlers with any grip or pressure. But, as the pro above states, with some drying time they look just great. Good luck on your hunt.
and watch the tips, they're generally still pretty soft. We've popped tips off trying to remove velvet. Never fails! You'll know by squeezing how far along they are. Early august they'll be soft, count on it!
I don't like the blood, soaking in a creek works well for removing this. or taking velvet off as well that's tight but not shed. They really don't look right to me anyways but ymmv here if you let the blood dry. Once white you can stain. I know guys painting with a pearl white first than staining with whatever you want that's compatible with the paint. comes out awesome.
I agree 100% get it off as soon as you can!!! Or you'll be cussing yourself later for not LOL!