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Why Bucks Shed Their Antlers (Episode 327 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Spring is rapidly approaching and with that we’ll soon be seeing new antlers growing. But before that occurs bucks must shed their existing set of antlers.

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GRANT: During this time of year it’s common for us to get questions of when antlers start growing or when are bucks gonna shed their antlers. That’s a tough question. There are multiple factors which influence when antlers are shed each year.

GRANT: Photoperiod, or the number of hours of light each day, is the biggest factor that determines when bucks will shed their antlers. As the number of hours of daylight increases during the late winter and early spring, it triggers several chemical reactions inside a whitetail’s body. And some of those reactions trigger shedding of antlers.

GRANT: Testosterone is one of the primary hormones involved in this process. When testosterone drops below a certain level, the cell structure that holds antlers on a deer’s head actually changes and antlers are shed.

GRANT: Once the amount of daylight is long enough, and the starting gun fires so to speak, then it’s other factors such as the buck’s individual condition, malnourishment, injuries, and other factors that determine how the hormones are interacting with the body and cause those cells to change – resulting in antlers being cast.

TRACY: That’s it, you did it! You did it! Yes you did! Yes you did!

GRANT: Generally, the longer the bucks hold their antlers, the healthier they are. Therefore, an easy indicator of a herd’s health is how long bucks are holding their antlers – where you hunt maybe compared to a neighboring property or years past on the same area.

NEWSCASTER: As this massive storm rolls across…

GRANT: As an example, earlier this year, there were huge amounts of snow in several of the eastern states. Record levels of 30, 40, 50 inches of snow were reported. No doubt that caused a lot of stress on those deer herds. And I suspect bucks in that area shed their antlers much earlier than normal.

GRANT: That same level of snow in areas that typically get that kind of snow – like the Northern Adirondacks or Northern Wisconsin – probably wouldn’t have triggered early shedding.

GRANT: Sometimes I hear people stating dates when deer are supposed to shed based on research from captive deer facilities. But conditions in a captive research facility are so level that bucks do tend to shed about the same time each year. That obviously doesn’t apply to wild deer.

GRANT: Given all these factors, it’s difficult to predict when free ranging bucks will shed their antlers. Here at The Proving Grounds, currently, some of our bucks have already shed while other bucks are still holding their antlers. This is interesting given that they're at the same location, the exact same day length, same food resources, same environmental conditions.

GRANT: Daniel found a shed from one of our hit list bucks we call Gumby on February 3rd. When we reviewed some Reconyx videos of Gumby, it was obvious he’d had a tough rut. His antlers were busted up and it appeared he was losing a significant amount of body weight during the latter period of the rut.

GRANT: In contrast, we just got some video of another hit list buck we call South Paw. He’s still holding both sides of his antlers and his body appears in great condition.

GRANT: One thing that’s common – when bucks are shedding antlers, you know it’s not long ‘til turkey season starts. Our Reconyx cameras are capturing some great footage of toms struttin’ in food plots and we’re hearing a few gobbles while we’re out working on the property.

GRANT: All of us on the GrowingDeer Team truly enjoy turkey season. It’s just a great time to get outside and enjoy Creation. In fact, Adam and I will be headed very soon to South Florida to participate in the earliest turkey season in the United States.

GRANT: Before we start turkey season, I want to take some time and check out my Winchester shotgun. I know it was sighted in perfectly last year. And I know the combination of that gun and the Long Beard shells give me a great pattern. But it was a long season; I hunted several states; and I might have bumped that scope off somewhere toward the end of season. So, before I go down and start calling turkeys, I want to make sure that baby is zeroed in.

GRANT: Adam and I are getting ready to roll to South Florida, for the earliest turkey season in the continental United States. I’m gonna be using the same Winchester shotgun and ammunition that I used last year. I know this is a great combination. So, today I’m just making sure it’s sighted in from last season.

GRANT: I’m gonna start at 20 yards. I know this gun produces a tight pattern, so I wanta make sure my scope is zeroed in. I’d hate to be off a little bit and miss a turkey opening morning.

GRANT: Fire in the hole. Waa-who-who.

GRANT: Even from here I’m pretty confident my shotgun is still sighted in, because if that had been a real turkey I’d a just about took the head off. Making sure my shotgun is zeroed in, is probably more important now than it used to be because the Long Beard XRs throws such a great pattern. That that turkey comes in close – 10 yards or so – and your scope got bumped a little bit, you might miss that turkey.

GRANT: We’re back at 30. Some folks may wonder why shoot at 30 once you know 20 is on. I thought I detected a slight variation to the right with the pattern. That will be magnified at 30 and 40 yards – just like shooting a bow.

GRANT: I prefer to use a scope on my turkey gun. A bead is perfect for shooting moving targets such as doves or ducks. But when that turkey is coming in I need to aim exactly because the neck is pretty small. Using Long Beard XR gives me a great pattern, as long as my scope is sighted in I know that turkey is gonna be flopping when I pull the trigger.

GRANT: We’ve shot out to 40 yards and the pattern is still great. Gosh, I don’t know – 20, 30, 40 pellets in the turkey’s head at 40 yards and looks very centered. My early concerns that maybe it was shifted a little to the right was clearly me because looks like it’s very centered – up, down, side to side. We’re ready to roll to South Florida.

GRANT: With the Winchester sighted in, Adam and I are just waiting for opening day.

ADAM: (Whispering) Ready? Ready?

GRANT: With Adam’s recent harvest of hogs in Oklahoma, it was time for Miss Tracy to make some pork sausage.

TRACY: Recently Adam and Matt were in Western Oklahoma. They harvested a few pigs. So, today we’re in the kitchen making some fresh pork sausage. We’re using the LEM breakfast sausage mix. We tried it this past winter on some fresh venison and really liked it. So, we’re looking forward to trying it on the pork.

TRACY: If you want to make it in casings, it’s similar to what you’ve seen us do in previous videos for the summer sausage or the bratwurst episodes.

TRACY: We’re keeping this sausage in bulk instead of links. That’s the way I grew up; that’s the way our family did it; we always prefer making our own sausage patties. So, we’ve grounded up – measuring it out into two pound portions and going to vacuum package it.

GRANT: Breakfast sausage is a favorite of the Woods family. So, we ran that pork through the LEM grinder, added some spices, and we’re well on our way to having a freezer full of sausage.

TRACY: We like to make our packages a little longer and thinner. The flat package will thaw a little bit quicker for you when you want to make your breakfast sausage straight from the freezer.

GRANT: Putting it all together, I can’t wait to have some pork sausage after a morning of turkey hunting this spring.

GRANT: The GrowingDeer Team receives a lot of requests to speak at special events. Last week, I was blessed to speak at the Mount Zion Church and School near Ava, Missouri.

GRANT: And the biggest problem with bucks not getting big in the Ozarks is they don’t have enough birthdays. (Laughter) They usually get lead poisoning at about 2,000 feet a second.

GRANT: I really enjoy these events. It gives me a chance to share what we’ve learned about Creation – and even more importantly about my relationship with the Creator. There is always great food and fellowship at these events. March 1st Adam and I will be speaking near Little Rock. If you’re in the Little Rock area, check out the link below and we hope to visit with you March 1st.

GRANT: Between habitat work and getting ready for turkey season – the entire GrowingDeer Team is getting ready for our next field event, April 1st and 2nd.

GRANT: One of the demonstrations I’m looking forward to is the final version of the Genesis drill. We’ve been experimenting with this drill and making changes for several months. I can’t believe how patient they’ve been in implementing all the changes we’ve suggested. We’re gonna have it here and actually offering a discount to the Field Day attendees.

GRANT: No matter if the thermometer is at the bottom or top end, I hope you get outside this week and enjoy Creation. But most importantly, take time each day, slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.