Deer & Deer Hunting

The ANTLER Effect

Since body growth takes precedence over antler growth, antler pedicle size among young bucks provides a good indicator of deer population health. Here’s a look at the research behind this phenomenon.

If most yearling (1½-year-old) bucks in a given population are large and healthy, they’ll likely sport good-sized, multi-tined antlers. Conversely, a high proportion of small-bodied yearling bucks with short-spike antlers, less than 3 inches long, is symptomatic of inadequate nutrition or possibly other consequences of poor herd structure.

There is no evidence that a short-spike antler gene exists. In reality, poor nutrition, late-births or social stress are more often responsible.

THE PEDICLE

Before any deer can grow antlers it must first grow pedicles, or stumps, on which the antlers form. This means that proper development of the pedicle plays a key role in antler growth.

In white-tailed deer and mule deer, pedicles develop after birth, and don’t become pronounced bumps until the fawn is about 4 or 5 months old. That’s when the healthy young male’s testes develop and start producing sufficient quantities of the male sex hormone testosterone. Elevated blood levels of testosterone stimulate the laying down

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