Neither does a wide, tall rack. What does this mean for hunters? A buck's antlers fall off during the winter, then grow again in preparation for the next season's rut. But, why do antlers grow and what are some of the factors behind their rapid growth? We fondly referred to this buck as “Split G-2” (I am sure you can gather from the photo sequence why). Spongy bone makes up about half the diameter of an average antler (McDonald et al. For more details on this process see the review by Price et al. The covering of the growing antler takes on the appearance of shiny velvet because sparse hairs grow straight out and are coated with oily secretions from the hair follicle. They fascinate us. The most critical months for moisture/nutrition in reference to antler growth are typically February, March and April. mule deer bucks peak in antler growth at 6 ½ to 8 ½ years of age, and during 2005 to 2015 hunting seasons in the 6 counties with the experimental antler restriction, 72% of the bucks aged and measured by TPWD biologists were 4 ½ years old or younger. For mule deer and whitetails, that generally means an antler growth peak occurring at 5.5 years of age or older. At this age, most bucks will not have a spread wider than the width from ear to ear when they are standing erect. Antlers from the same deer at ages 3, 4, and 5 years showing consistency of general conformation, annual variation in presence of tines (a), and abnormal points increasing at older ages (b). Most mule deer hunters get caught up in the outside spread when in reality, the actual measurement taken will be on the inside spread of the main beams. Field judging the age of an animal can be difficult, but this is something that with some practice can be made an inexact science. Spongy bone is highly vascularized during growth, which allows the transport of nutrients and growth regulating hormones. Others wander far and wide. Well after the breeding season, cells called osteoclasts de-mineralize the bone along an abscission line where the pedicle meets the antler. Below we will examine these factors further as well as look at the year to year growth of a couple different bucks and bulls. Antlers grow rapidly from their pedicle (base) while in velvet during the spring and summer, as fast as 3/4 inch/week for yearlings and 1 1/2 inches per week for adults during peak growth (Jacobson and Griffin 1983). Beneath the velvet epidermis and dermis of the growing antler is a thick, fibrous protective membrane, called perichondrium when it covers the cartilagenous growth stage and periosteum when it covers the boney stage of the growing antler. The individual variation comes into play here as well as the genetic makeup of the animal. Once mineralized, chondroclasts resorb the cartilage, and bone is laid down on the remaining "scaffold" by osteoblasts. A similar antler restriction for white-tailed deer has been in place for a number of years in other parts of the state, and has successfully shifted the age class structure toward older bucks. Counties that have historically produced Boone and Crockett class animals are assumed to have some superior genetic qualities, but strong genetics do not always spell big racks. Another deer at maturity (C) and the year of his death (D). Because of the incredible pressures put upon them, the numbers of trophy bucks are … Mule deer vs. Sitka black-tailed deer Sitka black-tailed deer are a subspecies of mule deer found in some parts of Alaska. This buck’s frame remains remarkably similar from year to year. X-ray of cross sections at the antler base showshows the range of variation in relative amount of spongy (dark center) and compact bone.A) average composition,B) minimal spongy bone, andC) maximal spongy bone. Secondly, most bucks are still stressed from the long winter so their overall body is in recovery mode. In the world of the whitetail (and some mule deer and elk), agricultural crops play a major role in nutritional intake. This variable is impossible to quantify and very hard to identify as a wildlife manager. The easiest method for quickly judging the spread on any mule deer is the distance from ear-tip to ear-tip which is usually very close to 20 inches. There is one more factor that should be considered with regard to antler growth: individual variation. If there is very little vegetation, antler growth is minimal. Five to Seven Years Old The annual cycle of antler growth … Antlers. A 4x4 rack does not indicate a 4-year-old buck. Tagged as: Beneath the velvet and perichondrium lies the mesenchyme growth zone, an area of rapid cell generation and growth. If the exact age of older mule deer is important to wildlife managers or wildlife researchers, the annual growth ring method is called upon to accurately determine a deer's age. From the time antlers begin growing in late March through the end of April, growth is minimal. goHUNT is a registered trademark of goHUNT, LLC. The growth does, however, begin to slow down once the buck reaches 7-10 years of age. As he grew older, his rack increased in size, but generally maintained some identifying characteristics. A select few wild deer are capable of growing “trophy-size” racks at a young age. The three factors that affect antler growth are well documented and have been studied for centuries. Large mule deer bucks are very crafty and are a rare site in this day and age. Robby with an Idaho mule deer lab aged at eight years. Without proper testosterone production, buck deer often have issues with the normal cycle of antler growth and may retain the antlers year-round. Older animals grow bigger antlers. Receive updates and goHUNT's most popular content. We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other characteristic protected by the law. If you do, taking the time to identify a buck’s home range and some of his “personality traits” can make year to year hunting a lot of fun. Yet, while hard to identify, we can look at historical harvest data to narrow down areas that consistently produce favorable genetics for antler growth. We love them. The same is true for mule deer. As detailed in this article on this website, you can't depend solely on antler size when visually aging bucks. During growth, a soft blood-rich skin called velvet covers the antlers. Plenty of moisture has the grass growing quickly and food will be plentiful this spring and summer for optimal antler growth for the mule deer as well as the whitetail bucks. 2005. Several issues can cause testosterone production abnormalities, including disease, injuries, and old age, but the high number of velvet mule deer bucks seen this year pointed to other factors. Spongy bone makes up the inner portion and is less dense, softer, and weaker. Brain abscesses, resulting from secondary infection following injury to the frontal bone or pedicle, may result in a jagged abscission line projecting deep into the pedicle and frontal bone. It is impossible to identify the parents of the individual buck or bull you are drooling at through the spotting scope. If a bucks antlers are roughl… One of the fastest growing tissues in nature, whether a trophy hunter or not, antlers hold a certain power over us as hunters. Well, that depends on whether you are hunting in units where you can get a tag each year. The old saying that “you are what you eat” is also true for antler growth. The annual casting and growth of new antlers is an important part of the whitetail's mystique. Home Uncategorized mule deer antler growth by age. This is a well known and documented fact that gives scientists and hunters both another reason to be fascinated by deer. What if Shaq had only eaten twinkies throughout his career? Ultimately, they resemble a doe with antlers. Mule deer bucks too do not achieve maximum antler growth until they are 6 to 8 years. When bucks reach 4-6 months of age, the antlers begin to grow from the pedicle. The easiest way to differentiate the species is to look at the tail. At 1½ years, bucks are all legs. Center, Division His mainframe from 3.5 to 5.5 years old did not change tremendously despite the addition of significant mass, some tine length, and more overall “character.”. His point configuration remained much the same as he added mass each growing season. They fascinate us. 2 Deer Antler Shed: Age. The factors that dictate year to year growth are the age of the animal, its genetic makeup, and its nutritional intake. For elk, full growth potential may not be reached until over 10 years of age. Bucks with their first set of antlers are the easiest to age. How does this individual variation affect antler growth? During peak antler growth periods, bucks may experience a 20 percent decrease in mineral content in other bones. 1. Age is a major factor that influences antler growth. This means that you can probably predict the age of a deer by how large the antlers are. If your post-hunt sex ratios are in the range of 10 to 15 bucks per Some exceptional antlers can be found on deer in the “middle-age” age structure (3.5 to 4.5 years). During these months bucks/bulls have shed their antlers and are looking for that nutritional rebound to both regain weight lost during the winter/rut and boast antler growth. EEO | mum antler growth until they are 7 to 10 years old. Diagram of a growing antler tip illustrating the main anatomical regions. Customer Service | Four-year-olds have an entirely different appearance than one- to three-year-old bucks. Feed to deer, elk and exotic deer as a supplement to native habitat or pasture. Gauging the age of a wild buck deer isn’t as easy as counting antler tines. Note: You can easily track precipitation on goHUNT's INSIDER set of tools. One of the fastest growing tissues in nature, whether a trophy hunter or not, antlers hold a certain power over us as hunters. Antler growth begins shortly after completion of the wound epithelium in white-tailed deer and most members of the deer family; in contrast, moose antlers do not begin growth until two — three months after antler casting. A genetically gifted animal with a poor dietary intake will not reach his potential. Every year bulls that gross over 360” plus are harvested and found to be under the age of seven. Feed AntlerMax® Mule Deer 16 deer feed free-choice with adequate forage or quality hay. Each year thereafter, the buck's antlers will increase in mass and circumference until their growth. These three factors are the ones most often associated with antler growth. Mule deer Does: 110-165 lbs Bucks: 150-250 lbs For example, some of the best Idaho and Wyoming bucks that I've killed have been only five years old, yet my better Colorado bucks have been six years old. The sequence below shows an Iowa buck at ages 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5. Legal Notices, © 2019 Forest and Wildlife Research CenterProduced and maintained by Agriculture and Natural Resources Marketing. Animals that tend to roam far and wide put themselves through more stress each fall than do the relative homebodies. Antler point restrictions have been used as a harvest strategy with the hope they will increase the number of large-antlered bucks in a mule deer population. Compact bone forms the outer shell of the antler, and its greater density and stiffness provide strength for fighting. Without water, quality forage does not grow and antler growth is not maximized. The Life, antlers, mule deer, elk, summer, velvet. 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It is worth noting that 2012 to 2013 was a relatively dry year on the Strip, which may help explain the buck in the above images relative lack of additional growth from 2011 to 2013. Rainfall also plays a major role in this part of the antler equation. His body weight at death was 130 pounds and his antlers were 105 inches. It takes more than just being 30 inches wide to make a truly huge mule deer. Peak antler growth is minimal and to form the columnar structure characteristic of cartilage and bone this, part! Small racks on their heads ; but by their body shape even more through the years another factor and of. C ) and the year to year growth of new antlers is an part., summer, velvet the root of each tooth each year of his (! Growth in different states and units Texas to pick up 100 jugs of mass for... Weight at death was 130 pounds and his antlers were 105 inches of growing “ trophy-size ” racks a! 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