deer losing their antlers

Submitted by jt on 12/15/05 at 10:38 AM. ( )

Noone really answered the question from below. i printed it down their also but thought since their was so much response to it that i would start it anew also. bucks lose their antlers when a layer called the abscission layer forms. this takes place when 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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This response submitted by ryan on 12/15/05 at 10:44 AM. ( )

theyre already dropping here in Rhode Island....


This response submitted by Todd Adams on 12/15/05 at 11:18 AM. ( )

Hi Ryan, just wondering if you found a shed yet. I also live in New England, so maybe its almost time to start shed huntin....good luck.

WHAT? Blood Supply?

This response submitted by George on 12/15/05 at 12:05 PM. ( )

jt, you're a danger to yourself and the hunting community stating things like that. The antler is DEAD once it is out of velvet. Many farms actuall cut the antlers off and when they are removed, the bucks become docile as the family dog. THERE IS NO BLOOD IN A HARD ANTLER. The blood supply at the pedicel is always there. When the testosterone level drops DRASTICALLY as if the animal is injured in any way OR the rut has run its course AND the daylight hours have diminished, the antlers are on the way to being cast. What you're talking about is junk science with absolutely no biological data supporting it. Testicles are hardly the same as bone and if you tied a string around your finger, your finger WOULD NOT FALL OFF. You'd simply die of gangrene OR like Michael Jackson's nose, the meat would slough off leaving bone (and cartilage). GEEZ!


This response submitted by jt on 12/15/05 at 1:04 PM. ( )

i'm not saying that blood is still running through the antler. obviously that isn't the case. but youre wrong about the junk science. that is what happens. there is still blood that flows to the pedicel. it really has nothing to do with testosterone or moon phases or daylight. it so happens that deer lose their antlers during this same time but it has nothing to do with it. if it did, all the deer would lose their antlers in january or february and shed hunting would be such a long season. deer start losing their antlers, depending on geography, anytime between now and the end of april. now tell me this george, if what you are saying is anywhere cose to accurate, why would it take a four to five month time period for this process to happen? i like most of you postings george and agree with 99% of them, just don't act like you know everything. what you'resaying is obviously coming from guesses that were made from the same type of people that thought the earth was flat.

Site Your Reference , jt

This response submitted by Old Fart on 12/15/05 at 2:43 PM. ( )

I have to agree with George here. What you are saying may have SOME foundation in fact, it's mostly BS. You are pretty much correct in stating that the moon phase has nothing to do with it. But testosterone levels and the photo period are the major factors in shedding. Those being modified by the condition of the buck, due to stress, nutrition and weather factors. We have bucks locally that have already lost their antlers, and unless we have an extremely hard(cold and snowy) winter, we will have bucks that won't shed until March or even later. That is 4-5 months! Here's some REAL scientific reading for you.

"Antler Development In Cervidae" edited by Robert D. Brown
"Deer Antlers" by Richard J. Goss

Warning! These are not easy to find books, AND they will not be CHEAP!

George you are wrong, when you state that deer will calm down when their antlers are cut off. If you don't believe me, give Bill Yox a call. His buck "Lars" is still in rut as of today and he had his antlers cut as soon as they got hard last Sept. I also had a buck "Cracker" that had his antlers cut in Sept., it wasn't "safe" to go in the pen with him until he dropped the stubs in March of the folowing spring.
Also, the drop in testosterone levels corresponds with INCREASING daylight, that starts to occur on or about December 21.

Again I would like to know WHERE you came up with this nonsense. Please SITE you references!

OF, thanx, but Willow WASN'T that way

This response submitted by George on 12/15/05 at 4:15 PM. ( )

You cut those antlers off, he became docile, if he dropped his antlers, he became docile. "MOST" available books on whitetails mention that method to calm bucks down, so your information is new and appreciated.

jt, here's another reference for you that IS readily available:

"The Deer of North America" by Leonard Lee Rue III. (Start on page 72 and read about the size of the necks on deer - he notes records of a whitetail and a mule deer with 37 inch necks behind the ears.) He reports that"A dropped antler has a convex base of about 1/8 inch. This leaves a corresponding pit on the deer's head down to the top of the pedicel. After the antler falls, the pedicel is slightly bloody and has a faint odor of decay. It looks as if the scap fo a wound had been pulled away. This pit dries up in a few days and within two weeks a hairless layer of skin grows from the outer edges to the cent or the pit, covering it. This covering remains as it is until spring, when a new surging of hormones transforms it into the start of the velvet that will form the new antler underneath."

Now OF, on page 75, Rue states, "Without his antlers, he usually becomes docile as any of the does....The buck's testicles are still functioning, the male hormones are still in his blood stream, the pituitary is not affecteo to any degree, but all belligerency usually dissolves. In fact, the buck may not even breed. Losing his antlers seems to be an insurmountable psychological shock. But all rules hae exceptions. Biologist Hary Laramie of New Hampshire removed the antlers of a 1 1/2 and 5 1/2 year old buck that have become very aggressive to their handlers. Both bucks were just as aggressive to their handlers and was successful in breeding does......."

Now back to you jt. "Deer through the United States all go through the stages of antler growth...but they don't all do it at the same time....The breeding seasons for all creatures in the world's temperate zones are keyed to a master plan. ...."


This response submitted by Old Fart on 12/15/05 at 11:23 PM. ( )

I believe that your quote of Rue(pg 75) is refering to the "shedding " of the antlers not just cutting them off. A whitetail buck is fertile all year, but the lower testosterone levels deminishes his sex drive. That, plus the fact that the does are not going through estrus, so the breeding urge is unnecessary. The buck you site, "Willow" is the exception. I can give you several more examples of bucks with cut off antlers that were still VERY aggressive. And that is just with deer breeders that I am aquainted with. I think Bill Yox can back that up, he was brused pretty badly by a buck with cut off antlers.

all of you have some good points

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/15/05 at 11:49 PM. ( )

I can guarantee you that cutting off antlers does not change a bucks attitude, and the few that do reflect a change are the exception, NOT the other way around. Anyone who would care to sign a waiver out at my place, and then take a walk, will most certainly see what it feels like to be hit by two sledge hammers in unison.

Lenny Rue is certainly a knowledgeable man, I never met him personally, but my childhood interest in deer was due in part to his books. But, Ill respectfully disagree with him if those were his words above. Ive been nailed by too many cut off bucks in the past. Yes, Im wiser now!

As for pedicels, blood flow, and all that jazz, Im with Dave and anyone else who sees that antler shedding is a barometer to a deers overall condition. When we have a period of extreme temps along with excessive snow depths, deer in the wild will begin to shed, while captive deer may not. The difference? Stress. The stress of not being fed sufficiently. Take a captive buck and have him breed to many does and his antlers are coming off soon. Have a buck wounded in September and by October or November, those antlers are going.

Also, dont forget...there may be some blood flow into the pedicel ramps leading to the antlers. BUT, its the skin AROUND the antler, the blastema, that grows antler. The blood found inside antlers is blood trapped from when the antlers formed. Horns are feed through vessels in the bone core, but not antler. The demarcation or seperation line found on the boney ramp of the pedicel is formed similar to the process of mineralization that hardens maturing antlers.

When we look for sheds, and we start right after Superbowl Sunday, we begin to pick up antlers as we observe bucks still carrying, all the way through green up. It IS a long shed season! I know of wild and captive herds where deer are shedding as of today...

i don't know about bill,

This response submitted by Griz on 12/16/05 at 12:42 AM. ( )

i don't know about bill's herd, but our famous deer farmer around here has to starve the antlers off his big bucks. I don't know what the science behind all of that is, but alot of times they don't come off til he pens em out and cuts the food off, or at least way down.


This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/16/05 at 1:02 AM. ( )

I was having trouble with a couple fat old boys here hanging onto the antlers into April, so I figured Id try to synchronize them a bit. So, once it got real cold in February one year, I held back their grain for a couple weeks and fed mostly alfalfa hay during that period. I then put them back on the normal grain ration and BINGO, they all started shedding. They werent all on the same time schedule, but they were all shed and capped by spring, which gave me a good long growing season that year. Who knows?

Thanx OF and Bill

This response submitted by George on 12/16/05 at 9:04 AM. ( )

I would have never known about deer being agressive with their antlers cut off. When I get my next one, I'll be smart enough NOT to think he'll be like Willow was. I had enough "run ins" with that guy hard horned to imagine what he might have been like with nubs on his head. Thanx again.

You know, I do know other animals with their head gear become docile, so the whitetail is an exception AGAIN. The guy who lives down the road found out the hard way that a cattle prod is not a smart thing to use on a deer either. He carried one into the pen during the hard horn stage. When approached, he lit up his buck but found that unlike cattle, I guess the hollow hair insulates the deer. Either way, he found himself climing a 12 chain link fence to escape and the prod stayed on the ground inside until the antlers were cast.

I had one buck...

This response submitted by Bill Yox on 12/16/05 at 11:26 AM. ( )

I actually treated him with Depo Provera, just to knock him down to size. He was STILL agressive! By the way, be prepared for some VERY odd looks when you walk up for your prescription for depo!

Hey jt

This response submitted by Old Fart on 12/17/05 at 12:20 AM. ( )

I'm still waiting to hear from you on the references you got your information from!


This response submitted by John Knobie on 12/25/05 at 2:19 AM. ( )

Your all nutz

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