Antler Growth Study

A great study on antler growth on Versus TV examines the entire life of a single White-tail Deer that had been photographed by Charlie Alsheimer. Charlie Alsheimer is a well known photographer, hunter and field editor of "Deer and Deer Hunting" magazine (same name as the TV show).

The buck began life in the wilds of the Adirondacks in North Eastern New York.

Young Buck Antler Growth

As a young buck, age 1 1/2 to 3/1/2, teenager through early 20s as compared to a man, this it what Charlie recorded:

  • Age 1 1/2 the buck was only a spike.
  • Age 2 1/2 the buck was a 4X4 with total antler length of 85 inches (Boone & Crocket Score).
  • Age 3 1/2 the buck was a 4X4 with total antler length of 122 inches (increase of 37 inches of antler length).

Obviously, nothing to brag about, but remember this buck was living in a forested area without any agricultural in an area that has hard winters with deep snow area above 3,000 feet elevation.

Since antler growth can not be maximized until body maturity, when is a White-tail buck mature?

  • White-tail Deer are not mature for skeletal growth until 3 1/2 years
  • And not mature for muscle development until age 4 1/2 - 5 1/2.

The message of the study was to show what happened after the buck was captured and moved to a deer research facility.The research facility had many food plots, apple orchards, supplemental feeding and plenty of mast producing trees.

After nearly a year on a better diet, the young buck showed the greatest increase in antler growth.

Prime Age Buck Antler Growth

As prime buck, age 4 1/2 to 7/1/2 (Compare to age of late 20s to 40 as compared to a man).

Notice that the peak antler length was at age 6 1/2.

  • Age 4 1/2 the buck was a 6X6 with total antler length of 164 inches (increase of 42 inches of antler length).
  • Age 5 1/2 the buck was a 4X5 with total antler length of 165 inches (increase of 1 inch of antler length).
  • Age 6 1/2 the buck was a 5X6 with total antler length of 169 inches (increase of 4 inches of antler length). This was also the age this buck had the largest muscle mass.
  • Age 7 1/2 the buck was a 5X5 with total antler length of 166 inches (decrease of 3 inches of antler length).

 

Middle Age Buck Antler Growth

As "middle aged" buck, age 8 1/2 to 9/1/2 (Age 50 to 60 as compared to a man).

  • Age 8 1/2 the buck was a 6X6 with lots of "kickers" and "stickers" with total antler length of 160 inches.
  • Age 9 1/2 the buck was a 6X6 with total antler length of 160 inches (decrease of 6 inches of antler length).

 

"Old Man" Buck Antler Growth

As "old man" buck (Age 70+ as compared to a man).

  • Age 10 1/2 the buck was a 5X5 with total antler length of 156 inches (decrease of 4 inches of antler length).
  • In the Fall of his 10th year, this buck was no longer participating aggressively in the rut.
  • Age 11 1/2 the buck was a 4X4 with lots of "stickers" with total antler length of 143 inches (decrease of 8 inches of antler length).

In the Spring of the buck's 12th year, it was obvious that old age was catching up to him. He was very thin and obviously in decline. By the Fall at age 12 1/2 the buck was a 6X6 with total antler length of 105 inches (decrease of 38 inches of antler length). He died in December. A post-mortem exam revealed he had bone cancer.

Importance of Nutrition in Antler Growth

This experiment proves the importance of nutrition toward antler growth and disproves the old saying "once a spike, always a spike".

This buck had the genetics for large body size and good antlers, but the poor nutrition he was able to acquire in the wilds of the Adirondacks would not allow him to reach is potential. After been moved to an area with excellent nutrition, he was able to develop into a great buck, from a body mass standpoint and as a buck with very good antler growth.

Antler Growth Timeline of 2 1/2 Year Old Buck

A trail camera captures photos of antler growth in a 2 1/2 year old buck.


Crazy Antler Growth

See how much a whitetail antler's can grow when kept under ideal conditions.

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