There’s not much you can do about genetics in free-ranging deer.
QUESTION: I’ve noticed many of the bucks taken in my area have short tines. Is this a sign of inbreeding? Is there anything we can do to improve antler size? –Thomas P.
ANSWER: As most folks know, it takes three things to make big antlers: age, genetics and nutrition. By allowing bucks to grow older and providing good nutrition (usually accomplished by keeping deer densities down and supplementing with food plots, mast orchards, feed and, to some extent, minerals) you can increase overall antler size.
There’s not much you can do about genetics, especially in free-ranging deer, because there is so much genetic diversity, which is enhanced by yearling buck dispersal. Despite that, it is not uncommon to see common antler traits, like drop tines, long or short brow tines or a particular frame shape in localized areas.
There’s still a lot we don’t know about antlers, and it’s fascinating to see how strong certain traits can be. — Recent Ask the Biologist Question:
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