What’s the biggest factor that determines antler size?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
Dear Dr. Woods,
The deer in the area around property we have range from all sizes but it seems most of the deer are small, we have had corn planted in our field and this year we have soy beans but we don’t really know how we can boost the antler growth of the deer and how we can get more deer on our property in general.

God Bless You And Your Crew Grant! 🙂


The biggest factor that determines antler size is a buck’s age.  For example, two year old bucks rarely produce more than 60% of their antler growth potential and three year old bucks rarely produce more than 80%.  Even four year old bucks rarely grow their largest set of antlers.  In most areas the number one source of buck mortality is being harvested by hunters. So, the old saying “let them go so they will grow” is true!  

The second factor is the quality of a buck’s diet.  Plants are only nutrient transfer agents.  That means that if most of the nutrients are in the ground the plants can’t transfer them to deer.  This is is so important to do a soil test and lime and fertilizer as recommended by the soil test!!  Healthier plants will produce healthier deer and make them easier to hunt as healthier plants taste better/attract deer better!

There is no magic solution to producing bucks with large antlers. Simply allow the bucks to mature and make sure they have plenty of quality groceries!

Enjoy creation,