Here’s What Happens When A Buck Injures A Velvet Antler

antler injurySpring through September the antler-growing cycle for whitetails is approximately 170 days. This gives a buck many opportunities to catch a velvet antler on a fence, smash it against a tree as he flees danger, etc.  

Antlers grow fast—up to an inch per day in the summer! They have a complex system of blood vessels that carry nutrients through the velvet and down into the core.

When a growing antler is broken, it bleeds profusely, and blood can pool and fill the inside of the velvet. When the hardening of the bone process occurs in September the pooled blood can create a heavy, swollen, club-like antler.

If the injury is to the pedicle (the base of an antler) then the deformity could persist for several sets of antlers or even for the rest of the buck’s life, making him a permanent non-typical. Interesting!

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) 2019 Update

cwd map 2019

On this just released CWD tracking map focus on the light-gray blocks, which show the current confirmation of the disease in wild populations of deer. Cases in north Mississippi and west Tennessee are relatively new, as is the gray block in north-central Virginia (Culpeper County), 20 miles from where I hunt.

There are CWD deniers in the hunting industry, but I am not one of them. The scientists and organizations I work with and believe in regard CWD as a real threat with the real potential to disrupt if not decimate deer populations and hunting in the future.

Every year that I look at an updated CWD map, I see the expansion of the nasty disease, and we all must take the threat seriously.

Some of the latest development you need to know:

The Quality Deer Management Association supports ending all transportation of live deer to lower the risk of spreading CWD. This includes deer breeders (no more shipping live deer from one state or region to another) and state wildlife agencies (no more capturing deer, say, in an urban area and moving them to more rural counties).

All states have enacted some version of this law: If you kill a deer in or around a known CWD area, you cannot transport the whole carcass across state lines. At a minimum you must de-bone the meat, and saw off the antlers and clean the skull cap of brain matter before you take it home.

Basically, know that the days of loading a deer in your pickup and driving home will soon be gone. The new normal will be quartering and de-boning your deer, so plan on that.

All health professionals and deer scientists say that if you shoot a deer in or near a known CWD area, have the meat tested before you eat it. Gut and clean the deer, bone out the meat, freeze it and send a sample to a lab as recommended by your state wildlife agency. Don’t consume until you get the word back that it’s CDW free.

Go online and get CWD testing info specific to your state/region and know how to have the meat tested before the 2019 season.

How Much Are Shed Antlers Worth?

shed truckloadHow much cash can you get for your shed antlers?

For starters, depends on condition and grade of the sheds:

Grade A: Antler in perfect condition, brown and beautiful, with no fading…no broken tines or chew marks…this year’s drop, antler picked up within a few weeks or months.

Grade B: Antler in good condition, still natural brown color, may be dull or faded on one side and slightly weathered, probably last year’s drop. May have slight broken tine or chip.

Grade C: Antler faded and weathered to white and chalky, on the ground for 2 or 3 years.

Here are February 2019 estimates from

Elk Grade A: $13.50 a pound*
Elk Grade B: $11 a pound*
Elk Grade C: $3 a pound*

Whitetail Grade A: $10 a pound*
Whitetail Grade B: $6 a pound*
Whitetail Grade C: $2 a pound*

Mule Deer Grade A: $11.50 a pound*
Mule Grade B: $6 a pound*
Mule Grade C: $2 a pound*

Moose Grade A: $11 a pound*
Moose Grade B: $7 a pound*
Moose Grade C: $2 a pound*

*Prices estimated. Antler Buyers gets current prices every 3 months by calling, texting, or messaging 4 random antler buyers, and then averaging their prices together.

If interested in selling your antlers, click here.


How To Cut Mineral Stumps For Deer

msu stump 2

Ever noticed how whitetail deer love to browse the sprouts from recently cut tree stumps? 

Marcus Lashley, assistant professor at Mississippi State’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture, has figured out why—and developed a simple, cost-effective way to create more good feed for the deer on your land.

Marcus had long noticed that even when forbs and other foods were in abundance, deer still preferred to browse the sprouts from cut hardwoods when available.

“As a kid sitting on a tree stand, I noticed that deer were eating from the stump of a hardwood I’d cut down. I was curious about why, because hardwood trees are nutritionally poor for deer,” he said.

With research funding through MSU’s Forest and Wildlife Research Center, Marcus and grad student Don Chance cut a range of red maples (a species known for being nutritionally poor), and measured the nutrient quality of the leaves. They also monitored the stumps’ attractiveness to deer with game cameras.

They found that the sprout growth from cut stumps had much higher nutrient levels and was highly attractive to deer.

“Trees maintain an even distribution of nutrients throughout the roots and above ground foliage,” Chance said. “When the tree gets cut, the nutrients get redistributed, and the tree up-regulates the nutrients in its roots into the sprouts on the stump, which leads to nutritious forage for (deer).”

They found that tree cutting is especially beneficial during the summer, when plants begin to dry and lose their nutrients.

Cutting stumps during the summer months stimulates new growth that is 2 times higher in protein and 3 times higher in most minerals than before being cut. This makes the woody regrowth as nutritious as most food plots.

Marcus and colleagues plan to expand their research by select cutting other species of hardwood trees that produce no mast and have little food value for deer, and examining the nutrient loads of the sprouts that might benefit deer.

This new understanding of what they call “mineral stumps” will enable hunters and land managers to create more food for deer, especially during times of lean forage in the woods.

“All it takes is a chainsaw,” Marcus said.

By cutting/clearing some maples and other tree species that have no value to deer, you’ll not only create mineral stumps where animals will browse, but you’ll also open up the forest canopy to let in sunlight, which will generate more weeds and forbs on the ground.

Imagine the deer forage you’d create if you went bigger and select cut/thinned 20 to 30 acres or more, leaving the oaks and soft mast trees. In short order, you’d have a nice mix of highly nutritious mineral stumps and ground forbs, plus high-carb mast for deer.

For more info on MSU’s Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture in the College of Forest Resources, visit

What Is The Lifespan of Whitetail Deer?

dom doeTwo of the most amazing facts from the 2018 deer season:

A young hunter in Vermont shot a wild doe that, according to a tooth-wear analysis, was 20 years old!

And another hunter in Vermont killed a 12-year-old buck!

Which begs the question: How long do deer live?

In captivity, whitetail does have been documented to live 18 to 25 years, and bucks 14 years.

In the wild, where hunters consider a 5-year-old buck to be an old one, deer have the capability to live longer than you think.

A doe in Louisiana was aged at 21 1/2 years.

Recent data from Pennsylvania confirms 3 wild does to be at least 13.5 years old.

Interestingly, other does from Vermont in past seasons have been documented at 16 to 20 years. (My theory is that deer up there live so long because there are relatively few deer in the state, 130,000 according to recent estimates; there are relatively few deer hunters; and not as many deer are killed by cars in Vermont as in other states.)  

Noted whitetail researcher Leonard Lee Rue III documented ages in both wild and captive deer dating back to the 1930s. Rue’s oldest documented wild deer ranged from 16-1/2 years to 19-1/2 years.

“Females of almost all species of mammals, including humans, just live longer,” he said. “The males of most species are usually 20 percent larger than the females. Perhaps males are worn out sooner by this extra weight and the extra food that has to be eaten and processed to achieve and maintain this weight.”