We might all be consumed with thoughts about the upcoming rut, but did you ever stop and wonder why, when and how bucks maintain their incredible headgear? If you do, you’re a lot like me … a true whitetail geek!
One of the things that has always fascinated me about giant whitetails is how they can break their antlers in fights. I simply cannot imagine what type of force is involved to sheer off an antler. Another topic of equal interest is how individual bucks grow their crowns, and what factors come into play concerning physiology and biology.
According to my friend Matt Harper, inadequate dietary mineral levels result in lowered mineral density, which affects antler density. This causes a chain reaction in antler growth. Matt is the nutrition editor for Deer & Deer Hunting Magazine.
"Antlers are secondary sex characteristics, meaning that primary functions such as body maintenance will take precedence over antler growth," Matt said. "A buck that has lost body condition over the winter will use the nutrients it consumes in his diet to replenish body condition before the nutrients are used for antler growth. In other words, a buck’s body will not sacrifice skeletal health for increased antler growth and density."