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Sportsman Outdoors

Deer Antler Growth

Jack Danchak
Posted 8/20/21

Reading an article about deer antler growth was interesting and deer hunters should be aware that the formula for deer antler growth is age, genetics and food.

Several years ago a chapter of …

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Sportsman Outdoors

Deer Antler Growth

Posted

Reading an article about deer antler growth was interesting and deer hunters should be aware that the formula for deer antler growth is age, genetics and food.

Several years ago a chapter of Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) conducted an antler measuring and aging check station for hunters on the first day of the rifle deer season. This went over well and each year hunters brought in their bucks to the QDMA check station to get the data on their deer.

After accumulating nine (9) years worth of data from more than 400 deer that were brought to the check station, QDMA members noticed some trends developing.

During the years with above normal rainfall the bucks brought in had bigger antlers and heaver weights. Abundant rain made the vegetation more abundant during the summer when bucks were growing their antlers.

An abundance of vegetation gave the deer the nutrition boost they needed to produce larger racks, the QDMA members determined.

Another factor for antler growth had to do with farmers making more money. In the early spring of the year, commodity prices for corn and soybeans were consistently climbing up to lofty levels. The prospect of a prosperous grain market was enough to make some farmers change their planting plans and shift more production toward corn and soybeans.

In response to higher grain prices some farmers decided to take out acres dedicated to other production, such as hay and plant corn and soybeans instead. Such a move could help the bottom line for a farm, but it definitely was a boost for deer.

The more corn and soybeans that are planted in an area, the easier it is for deer to feast on high-protein food source during the spring and summer. A buck that has his stomach full of corn and soybeans throughout the summer will be able to allocate more of its nutritional reserves to antler development.

A deer’s age and genetics are important factors for antler growth but without the proper food, which is the most important factor; deer will not produce large antlers.

We have proven it right here locally in Sullivan County just how important it is to feed deer when they can’t find food. Before the NY DEC imposed another regulation ban on feeding deer, Sullivan County for almost 10-years was the only county out of 62 in NYS that could legally feed deer and the results were evident by the pictures in the Democrat newspaper of huge rack deer taken in Sullivan County during the deer hunting season.

Just how long Sullivan County will continue to produce heavier and huge rack deer with this new feeding ban in existence remains to be seen and only time will tell.

Jack Danchak is a longtime sportsmen and spent 30 years as the President of the Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs of Sullivan County, Inc.

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