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.”
Thanks for sharing Kelly. That is cool. I did end up driving around one of my areas last evening and saw several bucks with both sides still. In fact, two of the bucks were sparring pretty heavily (as far as “sparring” goes). One of those bucks was nice and wide. I will continue to monitor them for the next couple/three weeks. I’m guessing there are some bucks out there who’ve shed their racks, but many are still carrying both sides here.
This is from same area as Youtube (East Sioux Falls Buck) is from. The Bucks in this area seem to drop ahead of rest of deer I watch, it may have to do with the Buck to Doe ratio, way to many Doe’s in this area and Bucks by end of breeding season are well run down.
I put out some mineral and camera(s) the other day and kicked around a bit to find any, but didn’t stumble across any. Last year I found my first one during this same week. It was off a smaller buck, but it was fresh (with dried blood still present). This year my plan is to start earlier and continue on a somewhat regular weekly basis to find as many as possible. I like to glass fields this time of year to see where concentrations of bucks might be.