Thursday, April 3, 2008

Antler Growth Begins: Whitetail Deer

Another Sign of Spring

As the days grow longer and warmer, the whitetail bucks antlers start to develop. Progress varies from area to area and also depends on the age and physical condition of the deer. Many deer in Fulton County are much smaller than animals of the same age in Shenandoah Park.

This is a typical Fulton County button buck in excellent condition. Although new growth is not yet visible past the end of the hair which encloses the bases, I can tell that the bumps are much more prominent than they were a short time ago. Within a few weeks, the new growth should be plainly visible. Mature bucks should have plainly visible growth by now, but these animals are difficult to see in this area in the spring. In some cases they still have not shed last years antlers, although most do lose them in early February.

Canon 40D: 300mmF4

He should grow antlers ranging from two individual points per side, known as spikes, to a maximum of six points. Six points is the exception and not the rule, with most being spikes or four-points. In the east we count total points when describing an animal.


Misty DawnS said...

I have a large collection of deer items, because, besides dogs, they are my favorite animals. I love your photos of them!

I saw two while I was on my walk yesterday, but they were too far away to get a photo of them. There's an eight-point buck who frequented the pasture across from my house last year. I sure hope he made it through hunting season, because I can't wait to see him again.

DeeMom said...

I need some clarification, is a BUTTON Buck one whose antlers have ALMOST broken the surface? If so is this considered the first years growth on the antlers?

Willard said...


The exact scenario is a male fawn is born in May or June. By late September it usually has small antlers which ordinarily do not show above the surface of the hair, but are visible as bumps, such as in the picture above. These antlers do not grow larger until spring.
Male deer at this stage of life are referred to as button bucks.

t seems likely that once serious growth begins in the spring that they would no longer be referred to as button bucks, unless one would say something like the deer was small enough that it was evidently last years button buck.

Hope that helps clear things up.

Stacey Olson said...

Willard, great post, and thanks SO much for saying that it is EASTERN count, I was born and raised in the west and NOW it seems to be the rage for all hunters to count antlers this way.. Not sure why, if it is all the out of state hunting pressure or the focus on "Trophys" But I refuse to change and will still use the Western Method. :). If I go to the east I will respectfully use the eastern count there.. when in Rome...LOL Thanks Willard. Beautiful photo and explanation

Anonymous said...

A most amazing photo.
Will he grow much bigger than that?

Willard said...

What is really strange is that we use the western count on our elk such as 6x6, 7x7, etc., but do differently with the deer.

Willard said...


My best guess is that he will make a three to four point as he is the carbon copy of his one year older brother at that stage in his life.
If I remember I'll post a photo of that deer within a day or so, then you'll have an idea as to the possible size this one may attain. It will be interesting to see if this one follows the same pattern as his brother.

His brother was either killed in bow season or dispersed last October, as studies have shown that bucks move quite a distance from the area in which they were born in either their first fall as a rack buck or a few wait until the following spring.

Anonymous said...

I believe it might be chewing or biting off the twig, Willard. It sure looks like that. Nice shot.

Your photography is nice as it always is. I will comment more at another time as I just returned from hospital and am not back to normal.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio.

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Willard: What a great photo of this healthy looking buck. I had three young deer run across the road in front of me yesterday and show their flags as they bounded away across a field. It was still to dark for a picture.

Tom said...

I have been waiting for this... as I rarely get to seeany deer I find this very interesting a look forward to up dates Willard.. ;o) I do hope you were planning them my friend...


imac said...

Willard, yet again such photography and info, really enjoy reading your posts.

Travis said...

Great photo. I love your post as usual/

Kerri Farley said...

A Great shot Willard!

I found some deer antlers while I was out in the forest a week ago.