Are bucks with spike antlers 8″ long or longer genetically inferior?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Let’s talk spikes. I have heard it said in the past that if a deer has spikes 8 to 10 inches long they are a mature deer and need to be removed from the herd because of their bad genetics and that they would kill other bucks while fighting. Is there any truth to this and how do you suggest managing inferior genetics if you’ve already tagged out and other hunters on the property lack the experience hunting to make that decision?


There is no research that shows spikes are genetically inferior deer.  Such tales are started by folks desire to kill a buck and have no understanding of genetics.  

There have been many, many spikes in research pens, wild and marked with GPS collars, etc., that have produced great antlers once they matured!  I never prescribe removing spikes.  There’s always a chance an individual deer will produce spikes as an older deer. I’ve seen one in my career.  Such bucks usually have very large antler bases as antler bases almost always increase with age.  

Remember that does contribute at least half of all antler traits!  There’s no way to “cull” does based on antler production without a long-term pedigree (record of who bred who for years).  

Bottom line – removing spikes simply means there will be fewer bucks to reach maturity where you hunt!  Age is the biggest factor in antler size!

Enjoy creation,


October 24, 2015