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Ask The Biologist: Reasons for Abnormal Antler Growth

Back To "Ask The Biologist?"QUESTION: I shot this buck with my bow back at the end of September. Bad shot placement, I know, but down and in the freezer nonetheless. What would be the reason for this abnormal antler growth? — Matthew W.

Ask The Biologist

ANSWER: Thanks for the photo, and the question. There are many possible reasons for non-typical or abnormal antlers, and often it is very hard to tell which is responsible. In this case, however, it looks pretty obvious.

From your photo, the left main beam appears bent but not broken. Had the injury occurred after velvet was shed, the dead bone likely would have broken. This suggests the injury occurred while the antler was still growing, and therefore soft and pliable.

The otherwise intact and symmetrical shape suggests it was probably very close to complete growth when the injury occurred. As to what actually happened, it’s anyone’s guess, but the buck likely had some sort of collision with a solid object.

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