Contributors to this thread:
Drought Conditions and Antler Growth
With most of the west experiencing drought like conditions, do you guys think it will effect antler growth this year? I am thinking of putting in for a mule deer tag in Arizona that I am guaranteed to draw with my points but if the conditions are going to lead to less than optimal growth, I may need to push the hunt off another year. What do you guys think?
I think there's a lot of winter and spring left to make any guesses at this point. If it stays dry, then yes it will be impacted. If we get good late moisture and good spring growth then it could still be an excellent year. Hard to say.
I'm curious what guys think the reduction in antler growth would look like? I don't think I'd ever postpone a hunt because of those situations, but obviously to each their own. Big bucks will still be big no? For those that are in the know how much smaller do the antlers get in drought conditions? I imagine it would be very hard to say. If a buck has a good waterhole or a couple good grassy spots to feed it may not affect him but others worse?
That, and if it is dry, you know where to find em :)
I think the Texas guys probably have a lot more data on what a good moisture year does for antlers. I remember reading about how wet years had some of the best bucks for them.
Maybe Texas can chime in?????
My opionion only. But it depends on the early spring. I think a dry winter has them fat and not fighting snow and cold alot healthier start.
With the AZ deer draw in June you will have plenty of time to see how it plays out. Call a few outfitters, go on some AZ forums, see what they think.
I'm more concerned with low levels in reservoirs and a potential high alert fire season than how big a set of horns may be...
However, a low winter kill and hopefully a wet spring/early summer should show more animals with a crown on their heads for the next couple of years.
I was born and raised in the desert. One thing we have found is that for the first year of a really dry year we see some of the biggest bucks. Our theory is that the deer will eat some stuff they don't really like but is nutritionally superior to their regular food sources. The following year you can see the decline.
Antler growth, as with any growth, is a simple combination of three things: Age, Nutrition and Genetics. If there is a "lacking" in any one of the three, obviously, there will be a decrease in optimum. No one can tell you how severe or mild that will be simply because they do not know what an animal will eat if forced to and what the nutritional content of that food will be.
Here in NW Colorado we have had 3 very wet springs, which I would think that the moisture at the time when antler growth is at its peak is ideal. The deer have definitely put on a lot of bone the last couple of seasons, if this Spring is wet again, I would think it would be another banner deer year. The last few elk seasons have been poor on the bull harvest, heck up until today we almost have not really had much winter so far this year.
+1 HDE . Here in south central NM we haven’t had any rain since August or early Sept. or snow . I hope we get some this spring and summer so the national forest stays open. Not looking good right now.
X2 Mathewsman “if this Spring is wet again, I would think it would be another banner deer year. ”