Not exactly a Taxidermy question.........but

Submitted by Keith on 12/13/05 at 9:11 PM. ( )

What makes a deer drop its antlers? I have heard two different reasons.

1. A buck will drop his antlers within a week to the same date every season.

2. Once all does in the area have been mated. The testoserone levels in bucks drop and so do the antlers.

Thanks for any replies......

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This response submitted by Sam on 12/13/05 at 10:47 PM. ( )

That is what I've always been told. When the rut is over, they don't need their antlers for fighting so they drop them. But there is also one other thing that puzzles me. I've read that when a buck gets older(7-8 yrs)they stop worrying about the rut and mating, but their antlers grow to astronomical proportions. If they no longer need them, why do they grow back?

Testosterone levels

This response submitted by George on 12/13/05 at 11:20 PM. ( )

Post rut, there is a dramatic drop in testosterone and along with the pituitary gland activity based on shorter daylight hours, the antlers are cast. That does not mean, however, that bucks cannot breed without the antlers as they certainly remain viable. Larger bucks (read older/more mature) bucks tend to lose their antlers quicker as they expend more of their level of testosterone. So in reality, the casting time changes as the deer gets older. Deer in captivity usually keep their antlers the longest since their hormone levels are maintained longer.

one thing is clear...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/13/05 at 11:25 PM. ( )

Stop reading hunting rags, the guys writing dont know. Antlers are supposed to be indicators of status, like Sam mentioned. Yet, like he stated, why do bucks get bigger with age? Well, antlers are also a barometer of the animals health. Once anh older buck no longer is able to compete in the mating fight, he also doesnt wear himself down physically, either. So, while the mature buck does the mating, and becomes physically worn out, the older buck keeps his health, which in theory reflects as antler growth.

Antlers can shed almost to the day, year after year. They can also carry one side for a week or more. I had one buck shed one side January 1st and the other February 1st. They can shed due to stress, like injury as early as November, and as late as at least April. These dates are based on what I have seen personally, other dates probably exist. Ive seen lower hormones result in the loss of swelling, and decline of the desire to persue does, yet they hang onto those antlers. Another "theory" I dont buy is that once a buck sheds, he cant breed. Guess again! They still can, although I agree the rates arent nearly as successful. But it happens.

Mr. Yox , deer engineer

This response submitted by Mr.T on 12/14/05 at 9:37 AM. ( )

What is the window for early born fawns to late born fawns as far as a time span? Our DNR officer told us that an early born buck is old enough to breed the same year to any doe that comes into estrus in the second rut, or a late born doe's first estrus. Will a late born doe always come in to estrus late? In addition, will the antlers drop off earlier on an early born buck as apposed to a late born buck? What are you're thoughts on this please?


This response submitted by terry v on 12/14/05 at 10:26 AM. ( )

One of my bucks droped his antlers May 1 last year. It seems like if the does keep cycling the bucks keep their antlers. Must be the smell of the does keep the testosterone levels up? The May 1st buck was dominant. It seems like the higher level of testosterone causes deeper mineraliation of the antler pedicle and may help hold the antlers (or one of them) longer. My bucks were keep in a pen next to my does and they did not breed. The does cycled up through April. I could talk for hours about this stuff. Deer are so cool.
Ok, so why do deer drop their antlers every year?
I think it's so they can replace them with bigger (hopefully) and unbroken ones. That would suck big time if your only set of antlers broke on you in your first fight. Another reason not covered could be because the bucks will look like does in the winter. Predators seek out the weak when they can find them so the rut weakened(sp) bucks are harder to spot.
1"But it all comes down to Hormones. The Pineal gland, the Pituitary gland, and the testes and is a response to seasonal changes in the amount of daylight."
Quick fact: sick mule deer bucks hold their antlers longer then healthy deer.

1 John J. Ozoga


This response submitted by Keith on 12/14/05 at 6:36 PM. ( )

Thanks for your answers... The reason I asked the question is because I killed what I thought was a big doe last weekend, but come to find out it was a buck that had already shed his antlers. I thought it was pretty early for this to happen, but I have been wrong before. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.....

MrT, you give me way too much credit, lol

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/14/05 at 8:19 PM. ( )

Im just an observer, like Terry and others. A buck fawn can usually breed once he weighs about 80 lbs, and a doe fawn will typically cycle once she weighs about 80 lbs. Thats based on our northern deer, and its also been observed mostly in captivity, where we know for certain the age and weight. So, I believe its based on weight and condition more then its actual age in months. By November those fawns testicles have dropped, which means theyre able to produce viable sperm. Yearlings dont drop earlier or later that I can see. I see the dates vary, some are early, or late, but no true tendency to support.

Many times folks see fawns mounting each other and assume breeding is taking place. Not always so! Mounting is a show of dominance too. Copulation is a bit trickier. Theres a definite "schedule of events" that takes place when a doe is ready and a buck covers her successfully.

noone really answered the question

This response submitted by jt on 12/15/05 at 10:37 AM. ( )

bucks lose their antlers when the abscission layer forms. when this takes place a cluster of cells form below the base of the antler, cutting off the blood supply to the antler. say for example you were to take a string and tie it around your finger and leave it there. after awhile your finger would fall right off. believe it or not it would. a lot of farmers castrate pigs by tying a string around the testicles. the testicles eventually fall off. its the same philosophy with deer. there is no exact time when this starts to happen. stress and diet are the two main things that speed up or delay the process.

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