Antler shedding

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dmcianfa
 
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Antler shedding

Postby dmcianfa » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:56 am

Just curious if anyone else has seen antler shedding this year yet. I was hunting in my usual stomping grounds in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan and my uncle shot an eight pointer the last week of muzzleloading on December 9th. He called me up to help him drag it out after he dressed it out and when I got there we each grabbed a horn and when we went to pull him both of us were left with holding horns in our hands and no deer dragging behind us. We both fell on our keesters, but were fine and immediately gave each other a puzzling glance. In all my years of muzzloading and even late season bow hunting until the end of December, this has never happened to me or my Uncle. In any case, I'm curious to see what people have to say about this and if they've experienced similar issues, so early before typical shedding, which in the U.P. is mostly in January. We did see somewhat of a drought this year over the summer, but not the worst I've ever seen. Wondering if this could be a factor. I would also say that the deer otherwise looked very healthy, with no previous injuries or defects that turned up outside or inside the body cavity. Normal weight, in my opinion, for the area and not an extreme amount of fat or lack thereof either. Very normal looking buck. Anyway, I welcome any thoughts or insight. Could just be it was damn cold that day, I guess.
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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charlie 01
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby charlie 01 » Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:02 pm

The cold day had nothing to do with it. Those antlers only depart when they are good and ready. I have seen and heard of this a few times. There has been many theories as to early antler drop. December drop here in northern Illinois is not uncommon. Every Dec. I manage to find at least 1 pair from older larger bucks. It could be a number of reasons, a life threatening wound, stress from hard to find food in deep snow,and it's been said that the buck that does most of the breeding in his area will run himself down by not eating to keep his nutrition up. Some just run themselves ragged. They may look healthy to you, but they can be physically run down and exausted. and on the road to recovery, as much as recovery from a wound, the antlers are the first to go.
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Rutnut
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby Rutnut » Wed Dec 21, 2011 8:55 am

On Christmas day '95 I shot a buck that had already dropped his antlers. He had a horrible injury to his leg with a hole, and was missing an eye. When I QTR him, I found a bullet in his back. I assumed he dropped early due to his injuries. I have a picture of him from earlier in the year with the antlers, and without the injuries.

However, as luck would have it, I shot what I thought was a doe 1 year to the day. I was in disbelief when I realized it was another buck without antlers. ...in December. He was very healthy. I was sorry I shot him. If I studied his anatomy longer I would have realized he was a buck and let him walk. I had a tag for either so I let my guard down...I was only hunting for meat.

I have inquired many times about this, but no one has ever given me a solid explanation about the early shedding. So, I just assume from my experience that some deer just drop earlier than others.

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motorbreaker
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby motorbreaker » Thu Dec 22, 2011 7:31 am

There is a bar in hulbert michigan, UP, They have a large window in the back, And they feed the deer.
I'v been there in late december and seen many bucks there with there antlers cast.
Jake

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dmcianfa
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby dmcianfa » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:19 pm

Yes, good replies. However, we are not talking late December, we are talking two days after the first week of December or so and this buck did not have an injury to it. I've seen more intense ruts than the one this year and bucks more wore down than this one was with antlers good and stuck to skulls still. Doesn't make it set in stone law I know, but I find this particular case as an outlier that this buck's horns shed so quickly. Got to be a better reason or main factor I would think.
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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shaman
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby shaman » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:30 pm

It's a health thing. If the buck is healthy and unstressed, he may keep them until Spring. If the rut was hard or the winter is exceptionally bad, he may drop them early in the Winter.
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dmcianfa
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby dmcianfa » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:40 pm

shaman wrote:It's a health thing. If the buck is healthy and unstressed, he may keep them until Spring. If the rut was hard or the winter is exceptionally bad, he may drop them early in the Winter.


This has been one of the weakest winters yet for the UP. Very warm, except for the one day he shot it. That one day was the coldest so far. Other than that it has been unusually mild. I'm not trying to be argumentative, but he looked rather healthy to me too and not malnurished in my opinion. I mean, it's possible he had some kind of disease that didn't show, but he appreared to be wound free and with some fat left on him. My uncle said he was perfectly healthy while observing him for a full hour before he shot. I'm thinking some special cause here. The rut was, in my opinion, very weak this year in comparison to say the last few years. not much for competition in the U.P, with all the overpopulation that is rampant.
"I enjoy and become completely immersed in the challenge and the increased opportunity to become for a time a part of nature. Deer hunting is a classical exercise in freedom. It�s a return to fundamentals that I distinctly feel are basic and right"-F.B.

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Everyday Hunter
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby Everyday Hunter » Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:08 pm

shaman wrote:It's a health thing. If the buck is healthy and unstressed, he may keep them until Spring. If the rut was hard or the winter is exceptionally bad, he may drop them early in the Winter.

I agree. Health is always a factor that affects the timing of antler casting.
Other stressors that may cause bucks to drop antlers early:
• They may be underfed.
• They may be harassed by more dominant bucks.
• They may be hosting parasites.
• They may suffer an injury.
• They may be harassed by predators.

Whatever stress the buck experiences may not be visible, but it all adds up. When the stress factors are low or the buck is able to cope with them well, he'll generally drop his antlers at about the same time every year.

On my trail cameras I've seen two bucks that shed one antler. in early December. But trail camera photos are not very revealing. They might have been broken prematurely.

Steve.
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charlie 01
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby charlie 01 » Fri Dec 30, 2011 1:47 pm

Aside from noticable wounds or body damage, there is no way to tell what kind of stress a buck has gone through to make him loose his antlers early. He can look as good and healthy as the rest of the deer.
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Deebz
 
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Re: Antler shedding

Postby Deebz » Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:38 pm

Jumping in late here, but what about simple genetics?? There are genes that control all of the processes that go on in an animal's body. For an antler to change from being solid bone locked into the skull plate to being a separate deal there have to be numerous chemical reactions that happen. It's our genetic code that decides just how efficiently these processes all work. Stressors and nutrition and such surely play a large role, but genetics has to be a part of it as well. Some deer are probably programmed to drop earlier than others...

Rutnut's experience strengthens this argument as well... 2 different bucks from the same area with dropped antlers early on... chances are good they share genetics.
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