Stained Tarsal Glands

By GrowingDeer,

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This year while spring gobbler hunting (late April) in Ohio I noticed a few large deer together and I was able to see the start of antler growth.  I noticed that they all still had dark large tarsal staining.  I also saw some other large deer with no antler growth started but by their size they appeared to be bucks and they also exhibited large tarsal staining.  I also saw some does with last year’s young that had no tarsal staining.  Can you tell if a deer is a buck or a doe prior to antler growth by looking at last year’s tarsal staining?  Thank you in advance…



Both bucks and does urinate on their tarsal glands (a behavior called rub urination).  Does and subordinate bucks tend to lick the urine from the tarsal glands and thus their tarsal glands don’t remain stained as long compared to a mature buck.  However, the presence of stained tarsal glands shouldn’t be used to determine gender.

Because does and subordinate bucks usually remove the stain from their tarsal glands, I usually associate deer with tarsal stains that continue all the way down to their toes to be mature bucks.

Growing Deer together,