Every year at this time I receive several questions related to how much more antler growth will occur. Folks want to know if a mature buck can add another 20” before velvet shed or what percent of antler development will occur still yet this year.
There is no certain answer for these questions. There are simply too many variables. Two of them are easy to describe. I was one of the tallest kids in my first grade class, if not the tallest. Everyone wanted me on their basketball team during recess. However, by the time I was a freshman in high school, I was only slightly above average height (I’m a tad over 6’ now). No one was screaming for me to be on their basketball team then. Some kids that I was much taller than in first grade were inches taller than me in high school.
I share this information not because I wish to play basketball, but as an illustration about antler development. Some bucks tend to grow more during the early portion of the antler growth season and some add a significant amount of inches during the last few weeks before velvet shed. On average, most bucks are finished adding a significant amount of antler by mid August. However, each buck is a unique individual just like humans are each unique. The best we can do is to manage based on the averages.
Another factor is the growing conditions. The severe drought that is impacting many states throughout the whitetails’ range could certainly limit antler development. Bucks that are feeding on irrigated crops may not show as much reduction in antler development as bucks that live where crop production is extremely limited by lack of water and heat stress.
The other extreme is also true. Bucks that live in areas with a closed canopy forest or other areas where growing season forage is extremely limited may not have significantly less antler development this year compared to normal growing conditions as there simply isn’t much quality forage to limit no matter what the conditions.
At The Proving Grounds, based on trail camera images, it does seem some of the mature bucks didn’t produce much more antler from last week to this week. I feel comfortable this is because of the extremely harsh drought conditions. The two images are of a buck I named Heavy 10. The images are about 1 week apart, but I can’t tell any increase in antler development. I’ll keep monitoring Heavy 10 and the other bucks for antler growth patterns. How are the bucks developing on your property?
Growing Deer together,