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Posted by on in Whitetail Hunting
Whitetail Antler Growing Season

We are into May and another spring is well under way. One of the amazing things that occur this time of year is antler growth in our whitetail population. Many deer hunters are fascinated by this age old process; as it represents deployment of one of the fastest growing animal tissue sources in nature and, like a snowflake, no two sets of antlers are exactly the same.

I’ve got to believe that millions of years ago early hunters sat around the fire ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the wide variation of antler growth patterns; as they showed off their trophy bone collected via hunting or found as sheds.

Today we understand much of the process that takes place, but it is no less fascinating. Antlers are different from true horns in that they grow, are shed and re-grown annually in a cycle which is one of the most commonly observable traits in the Cervidae family which includes many species of deer, elk, moose, caribou, etc. Some female cervids even grow antlers in addition to the males.

Antler growth is brought on by the change in photoperiod (amounts of light and dark during a day) following winter. To reach maximum potential there are many things which enter the antler growth equation:

  • The animal must have excellent genetics to even be able to reach the amounts of bone growth we are able to routinely produce in our modern breeding b2ap3 thumbnail 7090 2programs. Selective breeding of the highest order is a highly technical and costly process which has been refined over the last 20 years.
  • The animal must be healthy. A buck at the peak of his health and not under stress will produce more bone secretion than a less healthy buck or stressed buck.
  • The animal must be eating a highly nutritious food source. In breeding programs this includes expensive protein diets that are supplemented with other vital nutrients including specific amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and other key ingredients.
  • The animal must be mature and in the right age class to reach maximum antler growth potential.

The process starts in March or April. As the antlers grow, they are covered in a soft fuzzy tissue; similar to velvet material. This velvet is highly vascular and can carry the blood flow necessary to grow these amazing racks. By mid-summer, antlers are growing at their fastest rates. During August, blood flow slows in the velvet and the antler starts to harden. As this tissue literally dies off, it itches and the animal looks to rub against the branches or even trunks of trees and bushes.

Between the itching velvet and the nuisance caused to the animal by insects attracted to the bloody velvet hanging from the antler mass; the buck is very diligent in trying to rid itself of all the velvet on its rack. Dirt, tree sap, and chemicals in the specific trees and bushes all act to give the antler its final hardened color and appearance. Hardened antlers can vary from light colored to dark chocolate hues.

Each buck produces a set of antlers that is truly unique in nature. Color, size, shape, additions such as drops, kickers, and stickers all add to the variety that makes a particular rack appealing to an individual. Each buck is truly a trophy and Large or small; each rack has its own beauty which is defined in the eye of the beholder!

©Copyright 2016. Kentucky Trophy Deer, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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Posted by on in Whitetail Hunting
Preparing for the Upcoming Hunting Season

It’s that time of year; spring rains come, flowers bloom, plants start growing, and a hunter’s mind returns to the deer woods. Over the next several months we will be preparing for next season. Which stands worked well last year? Which ones need to be relocated? It’s getting to be time to create new trails, remove underbrush from old trails, get rid of overgrowth, plant food plots, and repair equipment and blinds.

Recently I had a customer send me a copy of a topographical map of his new hunting lease to help review his proposed stand locations. His hunting lease is located in an area with plenty of elevation changes so a topo map is a good tool to look at when deciding where to hunt. It looked like he had done a pretty good job of coming up with those primary locations from what you can tell just via that one tool.

It struck me how others on his lease tended to have many of their hunting stand locations close together or in one area only. Is this for ease of access or shortening their travel time on mornings they hunt?

Ultimately, many times successful hunting comes down to attention to detail and willingness to work harder than the next guy. There are many sources of information out there to help you make decisions and nothing beats good old fashion boots on the ground.

Use of online resources like maps, aerial photos, wildlife agency documents, and the like can add useful tools to your hunting resource toolbox. Pre-season scouting, use of game cams, understanding local vegetation and plenty of time on stand during the actual season will improve your chances of success.

When hunting a new piece of property try to have a wide variety of areas picked out to hunt. Then you can hone in on where the better areas actually are. Be willing to relocate stands if necessary.

Try to get a complete understanding of where deer bed and feed and how they get between these areas. Where do they feel secure? What are their travel corridors? What are their local food and water sources? Does Mrs. Smith’s apple orchard provide a treat they just can’t stay away from? What about that old fire road that is no longer accessible to vehicle travel but is a super-highway for deer?

By using a number of resources to gather data, making logical decisions on what you learn, working to ensure every detail is looked at and hunting those areas which have the highest probability; you will be successful when it comes time to actually lace up your boots and get out in the fall woods!

©Copyright 2016. Kentucky Trophy Deer. All Rights Reserved.
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