first shed 2017

Kelly aka “Shedhunter” from South Dakota sent this picture of a fresh shed he found the other day, and it got me to wondering:

What causes bucks in some areas to shed their antlers early in late December or early January?

QDMA biologist Kip Adams points to a couple of things. “Nutrition is important, as bucks in good physical condition generally retain their antlers longer than those who are nutritionally stressed,” he says. “Widespread early antler casting (in your area) may signify a nutritionally stressed herd resulting from too many deer for what the habitat can support.”

Also, Kip says that in northern states mature bucks typically shed antlers earlier than younger, smaller deer. “(Older) bucks skip many meals during the breeding season, and those that rut hard may be in poor post-rut condition… even when abundant (food) is available. These bucks are choice candidates for early antler casting.”