Ah yes, another post about antlers. I have already made my feelings about antlers known – super cool product of evolution and nature; no antler-envy or blinding desire to acquire on my part.
Bucks are dropping their antlers right now. Some may have done it last month. Some may do it next month. It really doesn’t matter. They are all going sooner or later.
It’s interesting to note this variability. You may recall a previous post in which we chronicled the demise of Buck 12786. This buck was found dead in mid-January with his antlers firmly attached to his head. Less than a week later, one of our bucks was caught on a trail camera sans antlers on the same study area (photo below).
It is also interesting that very rarely do the bucks we capture have antlers. We could speculate all day as to why this may be. There are certainly bucks out there during trapping season with antlers. Some have even lost them in the trap!
This is not a bad thing. Deer are strong. Hooves are sharp. Bucks are stronger.
Sometimes it takes 2 crew members to hold them down in a Clover trap (photo right). If they still had sharp bones protruding from their head…well…you can see the potential for disaster.
In fact, it has happened more than once that an antlered buck that was captured and released actually turned to attack the researchers. Our protocol is to saw off the antlers of any deer captured.
So while a large segment of the population gets excited over antlers, our crews certainly don’t and for good reason.
-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section