Why did bucks in Wisconsin shed early during the 2015-16 season?

By Grant Woods,

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← Grant's AnswersDeer Management
I watch your show religiously ever week and have learned a plethora of management ideas from you. God bless you for sharing your wealth or knowledge wildlife to everyone.

I live, manage, and hunt in West Central Wisconsin. We are mixed ag land with hardwoods. Our deer seemingly had a very easy fall and early winter with very little snow cover and warm temperatures and plenty of waste grain available.

Despite this ease I am amazed to see all of our bucks have shed their antlers already. Most before the 1st of January and only a few 1.5 year olds holding and several with only one side.

I wanted your opinion on this if you would weigh in. My thoughts are the warm rut was hard on the Bucks and that stress caused the premature drop. Or we have too many does (which we know already) and that amount of breeding caused too much stress.

Any insight would be welcomed Grant.


Conditions out of normal such as too warm or too cold can cause deer stress.  Deer don’t have sweat glands and often pant to cause evaporation/lose body heat.

In addition parasite loads often increase during abnormal conditions.  

Out of balance adult sex ratios that favor does can also cause bucks significant stress.  Bucks in one acre or less pens at research facilities with all the high quality food they can eat, no predators, etc., will lose 25%+ of their body weight during the rut.  Imagine the cost of participating in the rut for wild, free-ranging bucks when the adult sex ratio is out of balance in favor of does.

Deer herds are healthiest when the adult sex ratio is one to one or one buck to two does.

Enjoy creation,


January 22, 2016