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From the number of experiences posted on this forum it seems that there may be more deer in S. MI. shedding their antlers earlier than in recent years.

If that's accurate, what would the explanation for this be? The only thing I've been able to think of is an earlier onset of winter as compared to most of the past decade.
 

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This should get a reaction. The reason the bucks are dropping antlers early is because their testosterone levels are dropping. And their testosterone levels are dropping sooner because there are just not the # of does running around like in past years. I (we, farmers) made that observation early in the season. Riverman
 

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riverman said:
This should get a reaction. The reason the bucks are dropping antlers early is because their testosterone levels are dropping. And their testosterone levels are dropping sooner because there are just not the # of does running around like in past years. Riverman
If there really are fewer does around, the opposite would hold true, namely, the bucks would hold onto antlers longer. This is because the does would all get bred within a narrower timeframe, and because bucks would not be subject to the physical rigors of the rut for an extended period, they would enter the winter in better physical condition. They are more likely to shed antlers earlier when they are physically stressed.
 

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Antler shed is due to dropping testosterone levels in a healthy male deer. If there are no does or only a few does left to breed those levels are going to drop starting with the youngest males since their levels peak way sooner than an adult male.
 

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The reason the bucks are dropping antlers early is because their testosterone levels are dropping. And their testosterone levels are dropping sooner because there are just not the # of does running around like in past years.
But...this is happening in areas with lots of does also. One thing I noticed this year was the signs of the rut much earlier than normal, why? I don't know. But if the rutting cycle started earlier and ended earlier, that could explain the antler loss.

Just a theory....
 

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What about poor ag land, poor crops, maybe a drop in nutrition and an early onset of winter? The peak of our rut is around the 11th of Nov. up here, and deer consistantly begin shedding antlers towards the end of Dec.

Interesting though...seems pretty early for down there, maybe we should go shed hunting on our lease in WI in early Feb, instead of late March.
 

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That is a good theory Neal. I also witness some very early does in heat a week before Holloween, a first for me. I'm hoping for a early spring, because there are going to be a some fawns hitting the ground, with limited growth in the hay fields otherwise, that will be easy pickings for the yotes. Riverman
 

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riverman said:
Antler shed is due to dropping testosterone levels in a healthy male deer. If there are no does or only a few does left to breed those levels are going to drop starting with the youngest males since their levels peak way sooner than an adult male.

So, if we have 50 does per buck, and a six month rut, the bucks will be hanging onto their antlers until May? Don't think so.
 

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I know when we go hunting in AL the bucks still have their antlers in the end of January, which is also about peak rut. They also have a little warmer climate than we do!

Who knows...still seems early!
 

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farmlegend said:
So, if we have 50 does per buck, and a six month rut, the bucks will be hanging onto their antlers until May? Don't think so.
No, you will have unbred does like we have every year. Why don't you do a little research and find out why that is. Riverman
 

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riverman said:
Antler shed is due to dropping testosterone levels in a healthy male deer. If there are no does or only a few does left to breed those levels are going to drop starting with the youngest males since their levels peak way sooner than an adult male.
Plain and simple guys what Riverman says is correct.
 

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Last year I seen two 8 and 6 until late April with both sides. There were still does around. This year an eight point dropped both sides already and still the same amount of doe around. My deep thought out conclusion after hours and hours blowing and shoveling snow here in Canton, must be the early snow (which could have a lot to do with the forage)
 

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farmlegend said:
So, if we have 50 does per buck, and a six month rut, the bucks will be hanging onto their antlers until May? Don't think so.
actually, YES. this has actually happened before in areas of new york where the buck to doe ratio was very high. bucks had their antlers in late may because they were still trying to breed does!!!:tdo12: so the opposite would hold true for a low number of does. if all the does were bred, then the bucks would drop their antlers as their testosterone levels came down. by the way all this info i am sharing with you comes from a book i just finished reading, wrote by Greg Gutschow of north american hunter magazine.
 

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Estrous is triggered in whitetails two ways. For any doe over 1.5 length of daylight is the key. At some point in Feb, March, maybe April I believe does quit having estrous. The second way is for a yearling to reach sexual maturity. With the colder than average weather the last 30 days, perhaps those yearlings are having puberty delayed. It's very common in young females that push/stress their bodies in sports and maybe the weather is having the same effect on the young does. Since the bulk of the breeding activity in Dec is the fawns, it would seem logic the teststerone levels in the males would drop if those fawns are not having estrous. Riverman
 

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Whit1 said:
Plain and simple guys what Riverman says is correct.
Perhaps plain, but not exactly simple.

Antler drop is directly associated with a drop in testosterone level, resulting in the formation and deterioration of an abscission layer between the antler and skull.

As to the cause of the drop in testosterone level, that is less clearly understood. Fact is, many experts acknowledge they do not have the answers on exactly what triggers it.

L. L. Rue believes it to be related to the individual genetics of the animal, with a given buck annually shedding its antlers within a day or two of the prior years' shed date. Others similarly hypothesize that it's the reaction to changes in photoperiod, processed differently because of genetic differences.

Age and overall health of the animal (influenced by diet and/or physical stress) also will influence the timing of the drop in testosterone. All things being equal, a weaker deer is more prone to the hormonal changes triggering antler drop than a more vigorous one. My personal non-scientific observations seem to indicate, if anything, that younger bucks seem to hold onto antlers longer than older bucks, which likely participated more intensely in the breeding process.

The idea that free-ranging bucks will retain their antlers as long as there are unbred does around is interesting, but exceptions to it abound.
 
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Actually just about everyone is correct. Everone agrees that the drop in testosterone is the cause of antler sheddimg. The question then is, what causes the drop in testosterone?

FL touched on a few of the reasons. Enclosed deer herds are a good source of data for this subject and just about all of reasons for antler sheddding mentioned here is observed in enclosures.

In 2000 December 15th at 5:15 PM I took two shots at a nice 4 1/2 year old ten pointer with my muzzleloader. All I got was two caps firing and nothing else. Turns out I took the gun into the house after a day of hunting and got the powder wet.

My wife found both sheds about 25 yards apart in a canola field on January 15th 2001. It scored 141 B&C if given an inside apread of 16 inch's. That's a fairly early time to find shed antlers. That same evening I stayed in a ground blind late into the night to observe deer in the light of the snow and stars. I observered two nice bucks of about 3 1/2 years of age with their antlers still in place.

I know that 4 1/2 year old ten pointer fairly well, for I observed him and 9 other mature bucks on my land from late May till the day I missed my opportunity on 12-15-2000. Got this mature group on tape many times and showed the guys twice on TV. This 4 1/2 year old ten pointer was boss man while a 5 1/2 year old 17 pointer that scored 190 2/8 officially by CBM was second in command, The 17 pointer was shot but not retrieved and found on November 3rd 2001. So what caused the dominate 4 1/2 year old ten pointer to shed while two 3 1/2 year olds retained their antlers.

That ten poiner was taken the following november 15th 2001 by a happy young next door neighbor 50 yards from my property line. I green scored him at 151 B&C. We also found the sheds of that ten pointer shed at 3 1/2 years of age.
 

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Do you guys think with the horns off and all the early snow in south MI that these bucks will start feeding along with the does, im getting more worried because I m out rabbit hunting every day now and seeing how all the deer baiters really got the deer coming in now. Iv already heard of people shooting for the biggest doe and it ends up being a buck! I hope this doe season will be ended soon.
 

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One thing I'll add that I noticed this year in se Mich. was
that the deer herded up early around the 3rd week in Nov. in my area,
even before the first snow dropped.
I usually don't see this until mid December where I hunt.
I think they new winter was coming early here and it did shortly
after I first noticed it.

Mike
 

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The testosterone level is what causes the bucks to lose their antlers...but nutritional stress causes the drop in testosterone levels. Heavy winters, heavy rutting, low energy reserves, poor food sources, whatever...but that happens first doesn't it?
 
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