Contributors to this thread:
Saw something today that really got me thinking, and I can't think of a better knowledge pool on this subject that what's available here. So here goes.....
I live in northern Illinois, in a rural area on 5 acres surrounded by woods. Deer are quite common here and I've probably learned more about them from my kitchen window over the past 34 years than I have sitting in the woods. At the beginning of March, I saw a group of 7 bucks in the field in front of my barn. They ranged from 2 yearling boys, to 2 REALLY nice 10 pointers, the biggest one having at least 24" spread. In my experience living here, I rarely see big rack bucks still carrying antlers even in February, no less March. Little guys....yeah. But not the big boys.
Anyway, a few hours ago, I saw that BIG 10 pointer in my front field again! And it's damn near April! Is this normal? Would there be anything wrong with him? (He looked fine, and was even starting to shed a bit....I was using 10X40 binocs).
Would like to hear your thoughts....thanks.
Its normal. Saw a nice 8pt yesterday with both sides still. How did you know he was starting to shed? See blood dripping or ?
I do a ton of antler hunting and have for the last 30 yrs. From what I’ve seen in my years of hunting and picking up antlers here in Southern IL. Now CC this is my area only. I only hunt 2 different county’s. Shedding can very from year to year. I’ve noticed when we get weather down here in late December or early January, I’m talking snow that stays on for days or a couple weeks with cold temps around zero for days they’ll seem to shed a couple weeks earlier than normal. What I call normal is the majority of the bucks in my area with shed from Valentine’s Day to first week of March. Like I said majority. The same play come b in effect of an unseasonably warm winter. Which we’ve had down here this year. I’ve been watching bucks even last week still packing. Also in the last 2 weeks I’ve picked up 8 nice antlers and hardly no chew marks and in places I’ve been looking already this year. A couple had blood on petical. We’ve had a ton of rain so I know they were fresh. One thing for sure about the WT is they are unpredictable. Turkey hunting years ago had a 140s 8pt range all right by me on April 7th. Packing both sides.
Keep an eye on those bucks and pick up their antlers.
I'm wondering if the drought had something to do with it.
Grunter: I meant he was starting to shed his winter coat. Sorry!
That's what puzzled me. Both antler drop and coat shedding are triggered by day length, so if the coat shedding has started, then why not the antler drop?
I’ve seen deer in NE Minnesota shed from 1st week of December all the way into April. Generally the big ones drop 1st especially in big early snow years
Some shed late, some shed early, I think it's hereditary... The latest I seen carrying both sides in Ohio was April 21st in full blown rutting action chasing a young doe, had to pinch myself it wasn't November... A few carrying around here into April is not uncommon, and noticed the few I've seen carrying in April were all mature bucks...
No answers, just thoughts. I can recall a few years where the big bucks held antlers until early April, These were easier winters. Maybe these bucks are in really good physical shape. Maybe they skipped the rut because they are gay.
Or maybe they are just yearling with incredible potential if they can make it to 4.5.
Non-binary and global warming......that's what I thought!!!
Or....maybe the buck is relying on his/hers/it's TIKTOK app on it's cell phone to let it know when they should start dropping!
But like I said, I've lived here for 34 years and have never seen one that big, this late, still with antlers.
Best I can tell it's an individual thing with each buck, maybe even genetic. As I've watched local bucks from year-to-year, individual bucks will typically shed within the same couple weeks time frame as they did the prior year. Normally the last few bucks to drop their antlers in mid to late March are yearlings or 2-yr olds. But that may be just because there are so many more of those younger bucks around. The latest we've had a buck shed here was April 11th and he was mature.
April 11th...WOW! Maybe we just have some "new blood" in the area then. I guess this means I have to sit at my kitchen table drinking coffee then so I can watch the deer....DARN!!!
A buddy and I were at a deer hunting show several year's ago and got to talking with a fella that raised deer for a living.
He told us that a buck sheds his antlers within the same 10 day period every year, barring injury or illness. And that 10 day period varies for each individual buck. I thought that was pretty interesting.
I picked up my biggest shed antler ever on April 1st years ago driving down a black top road near Paola Kansas while scouting for Turkeys. It was a 102 inch single antler laying in corn stubble and wasn't more than a few days old. I went back the next day and found the match laying further up the ridge just inside the woods and it was 85 inches. Unusual but not impossible. It definitely gives them less time to grow:)
my limited understanding is it is related to body condition or stress level. S dominant mature bucks that do the most chasing and defending of does would naturally be the most run down and likely to shed first. And yearlings would have the least stress and hold on to them longer. This would also be a good evolutionary model to ensure you have a stream of healthy bucks making it to the future. Deer in a confinement operation would likely experience limited stress relative to a wild deer and therefor exhibit very little difference except injuries which would be stress. But I would happily entertain other theories. So those couple big bucks still packing, do they have an above average wintering area or found something the rest didn't?
So you guys that feed "your deer" all year, do your deer hold there antlers longer than neighboring deer living in the ghettos with no feeders? Erik
I have read that bucks holding onto their antlers are a sign of healthy deer, and the reverse is also true.
It's either because of Global Warming, or its Trump's fault.....
And don't forget "systemic racism"!
I read several studies that say a deer will shed their antlers about the same time every yr. Usually within a week of the same date regardless of weather.
Christmas til Easter is normal here
Stress causes them to shed early so a late drop is a good thing. If anything it means that buck is set up well for good growth this year as he is very healthy and not stressed. Will not affect his “growing season” at all
Just means he's healthy and not stressed,also won't hurt growth for next year
This mornings antler packer photo
This mornings antler packer photo
All points well taken (no pun intended), but I just find it odd that this is first time I've seen a deer of this size still carrying this late, and that's 34 years of being in the same place. As long as nothing's wrong....and there doesn't seem to be....then I'll just have to keep watching them!