The Journal Register (Medina, NY)

Local Sports

November 27, 2013

Deer Antlers are Very Unique


Large deer antlers drive a lot of hunters. The quest for harvesting a trophy buck with large antlers sometimes gets so great that there are some individuals who have been known to participate in illegal activities to do so. Family relationships have also been known to get strained in a hunter’s desire to collect a trophy buck.

Most hunters are just happy to be able to get an antlered deer but are always hoping for that “big one” to come by. In reality, any deer, even a doe, is a trophy — especially if taken with a bow.

So why do some bucks have larger antlers than others? Well, a healthy environment that provides quality food for the deer is very important. Protein and minerals are first used by a deer’s body to grow a strong skeleton, and then any left over is used to grow those antlers. If the food is of poor quality or lacking in supply, the antlers will just not reach their full potential.

Another important factor is good genes that help determine the number of points, the size and shape of the rack. The bucks with the best genes have the bigger antlers and stronger body, so they become the top breeders, which means they pass those good genes on to the next generation. This, of course, leads to a stronger and healthier population.

The third and probably most important factor in a buck having a big rack is age. A buck usually doesn’t get his best rack until he reaches four and a half years of age. Thus, if he is harvested before this age, he hasn’t reached his full potential yet.

The highest percentage of bucks harvested each year are usually one and a half years old, with the two-and-a-half-year-old next. Three-and-a-half-year-old bucks are far and few between, and four-and-a-half and five-and-a-half-year-olds are a rarity. 

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