Another antler post. By me!

It seems my love/hate relationship with antlers has taken on a life of its own. Those bony growths ARE an endless source of conversation.

A few weeks ago, we shared the unfortunate story of Buck 12786. Buck 12786 appeared to have died as a result of an antler tine to the heart. A freak and presumably rare occurrence.

Some of our readers noted the size 12786’s antlers were not up to snuff with his age (at least 4.5 years old).

Since we had his antlers in hand and data on antler measurements, I decided to take a look to see if 12786 really was subpar in the antler department.

As it turns out, 12786 was average for his age. He had a 17 inch spread, 25.5mm antler beam diameter (ABD), and 8 points. When compared to statewide averages, these measurements are in fact what we would expect to see from a deer his age.

Average characteristics of antlered deer in Pennsylvania 

Age (years) Statewide Average
  ABD (mm) 19
1.5 Points 4.9
  Spread (in) 10
  ABD (mm) 25
2.5 Points 7.3
  Spread (in) 15
  ABD (mm) 27.5
3.5+ Points 7.9
  Spread (in) 16.8

Antler beam diameters (ABD) in millimeters, 1 inch above the top of the burr. 
Spread – Outside width of MAIN BEAMS in inches.
Points – sum of right and left side  – any point 1 or more inches in length.

It’s time we all come to the realization that not every buck is going to get his own segment on Monster Bucks TV.

Look around you. Is every man you see Paul Newman? Every woman Audrey Hepburn? I think not. Most of us are just average. Like 12786 and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Antlers are the physical result of an equation consisting of age, annual and permanent environmental conditions, the individual’s nutritional state as well as genetics.

Buck 12786 was not inferior on any level. Given that many Pennsylvania bucks don’t live past 2.5 years old, I’d say he was quite the opposite. Mother Nature is cold and hard. In her world, inferiority = death. There are no inferior deer especially if you are basing this on antler size alone.

So take heart, Average Joe. For it is you who is the standard.

-Jeannine Fleegle, biologist
PGC Deer and Elk Section

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