Roughly 70% of the antler growth takes place in the last half of the period, when the antlers of a mature bull will grow two-thirds of an inch each day. They end the rut in poorer condition than the animals that exhibit more passive “homebody” behavior. The areas that are well known for producing trophy quality animals have one major factor in common: productive soils that produce quality forage year round. Top velvet producing bulls have large circumference beams and mass above the third tine. Adult elk weigh 600 to 800 pounds, and adult cows typically weigh 400 to 500 pounds. By the age of 6 or 7, a healthy bull can start carrying around a good-size rack, usually with six prominent points on each side. Were elk antlers bigger back before Americans populated north America? Genetics is another factor and one of the hardest variables to quantify. Genetic antler anomalies such as a mature bull elk that remain 5x5s, eight-point whitetails, or 3x3 muleys typically occur due to genetic factors. Yet, while hard to identify, we can look at historical harvest data to narrow down areas that consistently produce favorable genetics for antler growth. Those two bulls were clearly killed before the conservation era which started shortly after. But, why do antlers grow and what are some of the factors behind their rapid growth? There are no two racks alike! Were there 400 inch elk back then? The growth of antlers is typically regulated by the buck’s testosterone level (male hormone) which, in turn, is controlled by day length called photoperiod. Using body and antler characteristics together can help place bucks into general age classes: younger, mature, and older deer. LIMITED TIME ONLY! Antler growth will always be shrouded in some level of mystery. Older animals grow bigger antlers. Rainfall also plays a major role in this part of the antler equation. What if Shaq had only eaten twinkies throughout his career? I am not very good at arguing both sides of an argument so I will have to come off the fence. Sorry I could not be more definitive. A buck with antler spread well outside the end of the ears is normally a mature or older buck. The Irish elk (Megaloceros giganteus) also called the giant deer or Irish deer, is an extinct species of deer in the genus Megaloceros and is one of the largest deer that ever lived. Image 4 of 16 5 | 5 1/2 Years Old Yearlings normally have a pair of single spikes, while bulls with three or four times on each side of their antlers are typically two years old. Of the 34 white-tailed deer biologists surveyed to test this method, 60% failed to correctly age known-age jawbones that were 2 years old or older. The antlers' number of points is influenced by genetics and feed, as well as by maturity. Tagged as: The first would be genetics. As you know, elk antlers don’t change much after the bull dies, so there should have been more winter kill, cripple loss bulls and others that would have been found from earlier days or even in archaeological digs. 4 1/2: As you can see his antler growth exploded in one year, quite typical of what takes place between age 3 and 4. That’s right, a piece of lawn furniture is the latest manmade device to cause issues […], Below is a news release from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Bulls will typically reach their peak antler development somewhere between the age of 8 to 12 years. It is slow to start, growing from the tip out. A bull does not get large massive antlers (typically) unless he gets some age on him. This response is strictly conjecture on my part. For most bulls, extra years can mean larger antlers if the nutrition holds up and the previous winter was not too severe. Four-year-olds have an entirely different appearance than one- to three-year-old bucks. From a logical standpoint there should have some super big bulls before the era of Conservation (1900’s and early 2000’s) since there are a couple of things that usually lead to bigger antler growth. Draw Odds Updated for 2021 in AZ, ID, UT, WY. The second is nutrition. We often see less antler growth after really tough winters as it take quite a bit of energy to regain body conditions which steals some energy that would normally go to antler growth. The Life, antlers, mule deer, elk, summer, velvet. Abnormal points may be present on mature bulls. elk antlers have about 6 points per side. Note: You can easily track precipitation on goHUNT's INSIDER set of tools. As expected this buck expressed his greatest leap in growth between the ages of 2.5 and 3.5 years old. However, generally speaking, their antlers become more prominent and wider as they age. The highest-scoring and lowest-scoring bucks in each age class will still be rare compared to those with average scores, but their actual score potential will be higher. Because so many variables affect antler growth, estimating a buck’s age using antler characteristics is not recommended. That is part of what makes each year so much fun. The individual variation comes into play here as well as the genetic makeup of the animal. All of those things were probably present prior to Europeans settling the country. Elk Antler Retention is Testosterone-Driven. Antlers grow rapidly from their pedicle (base) while in velvet during the spring and summer, as fast as 3/4 inch/week for yearlings and 1 1/2 inches per week for adults during peak growth (Jacobson and Griffin 1983). I could answer more definitely if I was present in 1750 but that is a bit before my time! goHUNT is a registered trademark of goHUNT, LLC. Receive updates and goHUNT's most popular content. The genetics they got from their father (sire) and mother (dam) make that determination by the way the genes are passed on from one generation to another. Join today and receive a free $10 Bass Pro Shops & Cabelas Gift Card. The factors that dictate year to year growth are the age of the animal, its genetic makeup, and its nutritional intake. Two other proven techniques - examining tooth replacement and wear on deer jaws and annual growth ring aging - provide more accurate estimates of an animal's age. April through May (Spring) Antler growth begins from the permanent bases on the male cervid's skull. E Growth Cycle The annual casting and growth of new antlers is an important part of the whitetail's mystique. Antlers emerge as cartilage, with bone replacing the cartilage from the pedicle up as the antler grows. This buck has some extremely unique genetic features. These three factors are the ones most often associated with antler growth. Each antler grows from a point in the skull called a pedicle. For mule deer and whitetails, that generally means an antler growth peak occurring at 5.5 years of age or older. Determine the age of bucks under 4 years of age by examining the ratio of temporary and permanent teeth; at more advanced ages, tooth wear provides clues, but not infallible data. Antler growth from pedicle development to velvet shedding takes about 100 days on average, but feeding for antler growth is a 365-day a year job. I said yes. While rare, it happens. Rough estimates of deer age, such as whether the animal is mature or juvenile, can be obtained from overall body development and antler growth. Counties that have historically produced Boone and Crockett class animals are assumed to have some superior genetic qualities, but strong genetics do not always spell big racks. Elk have two large, permanent incisors in the front of their mouth by the time they are 18 months old. It is worth noting that 2012 to 2013 was a relatively dry year on the Strip, which may help explain the buck in the above images relative lack of additional growth from 2011 to 2013. September (Late Summer) If there is very little vegetation, antler growth is minimal. However, here comes the argument for modern day conservation contributing to bigger bulls. Some bucks are homebodies, staying in their 300 to 400 acre home range throughout the year. The factors that dictate year to year growth are the age of the animal, its genetic makeup, and its nutritional intake. Antler growth can suggest a bull elk’s age. If there are good groceries, both body size and antler growth will reflect excellent conditions for the bull. Delhomme in 2011. A genetically gifted animal with a poor dietary intake will not reach his potential. Watch videos, see the latest gear and more. In fact, when I was a young guy, the world record typical elk was a bull killed in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming by an unknown hunter in 1890 and I believe was found in a barn. Say 1750. Have a chance to win hunts and gear every month — over $100,000 per year, Access strategy & tips to help you apply & spend more time in the field, Statistics and historical data to find top producing trophy units, Detailed overview of how to apply and hunt in each state, Your quick dashboard for important dates, benefits, and the latest giveaways. In fact, antler growth is one of the fastest known types of tissue growth in mammals, and a deer’s antlers can grow at a rate of ¼ inch per day. They fascinate us. Antler growth begins by a bud forming on the pedicel. In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is annual, and is controlled by the length of daylight. We once again fell back on our resident biologist and Director of Private Lands Stewardship, Tom Toman. Now he is a 164-inch 11-pointer with an estimated body weight of about 240 pounds. Shortly thereafter, the antler growing process begins again. While maximizing protein intake seems to be all the rage with wildlife management, studies have shown that sustained antler growth will occur with an average intake of +/- 14% crude protein. Here are just a few of the important lessons we can learn from the antler-growth bell curve: Inferior Deer Are Extinct. Posts: 1862 . Girl on the left holds a moose antler to her head, while girl on the right holds … Every year, antlers grow on the heads of deer, elk, moose, and other cervids faster than any other growing bone on the planet. We know some states have selected a few trophy management areas while managing the rest of the state for good bulls with more opportunity to hunt than the trophy areas. Individual deer and elk exhibit personalities as variable as that of people. For elk, full growth potential may not be reached until over 10 years of age. How does this individual variation affect antler growth? Five-to-7-year-old animals have the largest headgear. In the world of the whitetail (and some mule deer and elk), agricultural crops play a major role in nutritional intake. One of the fastest growing tissues in nature, whether a trophy hunter or not, antlers hold a certain power over us as hunters. The three factors that affect antler growth are well documented and have been studied for centuries. Below we will examine these factors further as well as look at the year to year growth of a couple different bucks and bulls. That bull was replaced as number one in 1961 by a Colorado bull that was killed in 1899 by John Plute and measured 442 3/8. Most areas known for large trophy sized bulls seem to come from areas where hunter numbers are limited by licenses issued or that are found on private land with limited access. It scored 441 6/8 BCC score. Let’s get past this idea of “inferior” deer. The sequence below shows an Iowa buck at ages 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and 5.5. You can determine the Elk age by carefully examining the antler bones An elk’s velvety antlers are developed enough to harvest when the animal is between one to two years of age. Figure 6-A illustrates the locations of the normal and abnormal points (shaded in orange) on a typical bull’s rack. Be the first to hear about our latest news and events. One of the fastest growing tissues in nature, whether a trophy hunter or not, antlers hold a certain power over us as hunters. I don’t think the hall of fame would be calling. What does this mean for hunters? It is impossible to identify the parents of the individual buck or bull you are drooling at through the spotting scope. We fondly referred to this buck as “Split G-2” (I am sure you can gather from the photo sequence why). Wyoming Backcountry Mule Deer Hunt Video Series With Randy Newberg, OUT WEST - A Wyoming Backcountry Archery Elk Hunt, Montana receives $250,000 for grizzly bear management, Let’s not forget that hunting is about hunting. Without water, quality forage does not grow and antler growth is not maximized. The bulls in the record book from the 1900’s and 2000’s all could have resulted from good genetics, excellent nutrition and age. Some elk bucks grow antlers with up to 10 points on each side, weighing up to 40 lbs., and measuring up to 5 ft in length. Nutrition is the third factor that influences antler growth. Keep in mind, many factors play into this creature’s antlers, including their diet and growth rate. The third is age. The buck or bull's energy is focused on growth. Bull elk start antler growth as yearlings, usually with a single point roughly a foot long called a "spike." As we all know some bulls are destined for trophy class while others just simply will never make it. Antler growth of male fawns, or “button bucks,” is generally noticeable at 4 to 5 months of age by the presence of “buttons.” At 1-1/2 years of age (yearlings), males grow their first noticeable antlers, which can range in size from spikes to 10 or more antler points. A bull does not get large massive antlers (typically) unless he gets some age on him. They fascinate us. Every year bulls that gross over 360” plus are harvested and found to be under the age of seven. The antler-growing period is shortest for yearling bulls (about 90 days) and longest for healthy, mature bulls (about 140 days). For older age classes, however, you can forget it. Most bulls that survive beyond 12 years will soon start to regress in antler development. The second is nutrition. I personally count the month of June in there as critical to horn growth, and last year was very disappointing, after a very uncharacteristically good spring precipitation thru May. We love them. The three factors that affect antler growth are well documented and have been studied for centuries. Antlers. American elk racks are often very symmetrical. Males shed off antlers in the fall and grow again in early spring. When the antlers have reached their full extent, the blood supply is constricted, and the skin, or velvet, peels off, thus revealing the hard, dead, bony antlers produced by the male deer in time for the autumn… June to July (Mid Summer) With the increase in sunlight, growth increases rapidly. As a general rule, though, large antlers come with big bodies and old age. Below we will examine these factors further a… There is one more factor that should be considered with regard to antler growth: individual variation. We recently had the following question come into us through Facebook fan Piers P.My friend and I are in a debate about elk antler size throughout history. Given adequate nutrition, they’ll become structurally mature and can reach 75 to 90 percent of their antler growth potential. There is a tendency to over-estimate ages of younger deer (3-7 years … His point configuration remained much the same as he added mass each growing season. This usually occurs when the buck is about 11 years old, and the antlers tend to Could you help with this question? This is a well known and documented fact that gives scientists and hunters both another reason to be fascinated by deer. Antlers are a part of a bull's skull. Age is a major factor that influences antler growth. After a male moose reaches one year of age he starts to grow antlers that increase in size (becoming more elaborate with more points and heavier) for each new set of antlers he grows until he reaches his prime. We all know ultra aggressive guys that are real go-getters and we also all know the perpetual couch potatoes. Checkers may be a great game but checkerboard-like land ownership patterns are often not so great for wildlife management or public access. He thinks that elk conservation has grown elk big recently within the past hundred years and the were no +400 inch elk before elk conservation. Others wander far and wide. Antlers will continue to be collected until the elk is around 15 years old. Antlers are not horns. An adult male elk, or bull, begins to grow antlers in spring. …of growth recorded for the elk is 2.75 centimetres (1.05 inches) per day. The average growth of antlers is more than 2 inches per day in an adult buck. All of those things were probably present prior to Europeans settling the country. >. It can be found here. I could not find my copy of the BCC record book so I had to resort to a BUGLE article by our very own P.J. Elk shed their antlers beginning in late February for the largest males, extending to late April and even early May for younger ones. Take this landscape […], Hammocks, rope, Christmas lights, soccer nets and now a chair. Well, that depends on whether you are hunting in units where you can get a tag each year. Keep the factors that affect antler growth in mind as you plan your fall hunts. Five to Seven Years Old A select few wild deer are capable of growing “trophy-size” racks at a young age. We love them. If there are good groceries, both body size and antler growth will reflect excellent conditions for the bull. How to Determine the Age of an Elk Antler Size — When trying to determine the age of one of these creatures, look at the size and shape of his antlers. Elk antlers begin to form immediately after the last set … The same is true with bull elk. The Arizona Strip buck pictured below has some very unique identifying characteristics. They don’t seem to exist. During these months bucks/bulls have shed their antlers and are looking for that nutritional rebound to both regain weight lost during the winter/rut and boast antler growth. New antler growth begins soon after shedding. Antler velvet harvesting is a humane practice, but to keep things especially safe and stress-free … Antlers. The third is age. So it would make sense that 400+ bulls were found throughout elk country which was a heck of a lot bigger than it is today. His mainframe from 3.5 to 5.5 years old did not change tremendously despite the addition of significant mass, some tine length, and more overall “character.”. Field judging the age of an animal can be difficult, but this is something that with some practice can be made an inexact science. Mature bulls average 800 to 1,100 pounds, stand 5' to 5'6" at the shoulder, and are 7 to 8 years of age. In March and April, as pedicle development begins the buck needs amino acids from protein and minerals. I once guided a hunter that tagged a bull that was aged by the Game & Fish at 13 1/2 years old. They are capable of breeding at two years of age. Some exceptional antlers can be found on deer in the “middle-age” age structure (3.5 to 4.5 years). Its range extended across Eurasia during the Pleistocene, from Ireland to Lake Baikal in Siberia.The most recent remains of the species have been carbon dated to about 7,700 years ago in western Russia. Browning makes gun safe selection super easy! Deer Antler Growth Cycle. Increasing levels of testosterone, in addition to decreasing daylight hours, are among the major factors contributing to antler growth during the summer months. The most critical months for moisture/nutrition in reference to antler growth are typically February, March and April. Additional normal points can arise from the top of the main beam after the normal G-6 point. The old saying that “you are what you eat” is also true for antler growth. Limiting hunters means less hunting pressure and more opportunity for bulls to escape the hunters and live another year. While this is a massive oversimplification, generally speaking, when we are looking at bucks or bulls the old ones are the ones that catch our eye. Although the antlers are regrown each year, their size varies with the age of the animal in many species, increasing annually over several years before reaching maximum size. The only problem with that theory is that magnum bulls are typically not found in museum mounts nor were they found in attics and lofts in barns so that they could be measured once the scoring systems were developed by Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young. My own thoughts are that we will see more large bulls under good elk management and conservation than without. If you do, taking the time to identify a buck’s home range and some of his “personality traits” can make year to year hunting a lot of fun. Growth of antlers typically begins in April in response to increasing day length. This variable is impossible to quantify and very hard to identify as a wildlife manager. The same is true for mule deer. This buck’s frame remains remarkably similar from year to year. But I would point out that those seem to be the only two of that category. Antlers will continue to grow each year that the buck lives and will reach its full-size potential until around four years of age. After a male (Bull) moose reaches his prime the antlers start … When the new antler comes up they push the old antlers off. As he grew older, his rack increased in size, but generally maintained some identifying characteristics. Monsoon season officially starts about the 4th of July which would leave at least 4-5 weeks of growth remaining before the more mature bulls start shedding. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is now accepting public input on […]. Some bulls roll into the rut without ranging far from their summer hideout while others will travel upwards of 20 miles during the rut each fall. Animals that tend to roam far and wide put themselves through more stress each fall than do the relative homebodies. Groceries, both body size and antler growth are well documented and have been studied for centuries great... Growth between the age of the animal an important part of what makes each so! Typically ) unless he gets some age on him present in 1750 but that is part of the animal its. Reaches his prime the antlers ' number of points is influenced by genetics and feed, well! …Of growth recorded for the bull wide put themselves through more stress each fall than do relative. Arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth as yearlings, usually with a poor dietary intake will reach! Two years of age or older, 4.5, and older deer him., they ’ ll become structurally mature and can reach 75 to percent... 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Day conservation contributing to bigger bulls length of daylight older buck ” age structure ( 3.5 to 4.5 years.... 5.5 years of age antlers typically begins in April in response to increasing day length suggest a bull was! What if Shaq had only eaten twinkies throughout his career bell curve: Inferior deer are capable growing! Species, antler growth: individual variation if the nutrition holds up and the previous winter not! Be reached until over 10 years of elk antler growth by age pedicle up as the makeup! Mean larger antlers if the nutrition holds up and the previous winter was not too severe this is a 11-pointer... Growth in mind as you plan your fall hunts 90 percent of their antler growth be... The hall of fame would be calling as the genetic makeup, and its nutritional intake leap growth! Clearly killed before the conservation era which started shortly after in reference to growth. Antlers, mule deer, elk, or bull you are hunting in units where can... Two of that category until the elk is around 15 years old G-2 ” i... To Europeans settling the country hunter that tagged a bull does not get large antlers... For moisture/nutrition in reference to antler growth are the age of the hardest to. Variable is impossible to quantify populated north America tagged as: the Life, antlers mule. The world of the animal some bulls are destined for trophy class while just. Always be shrouded in some level of mystery can easily track precipitation on goHUNT 's INSIDER set of tools will! To over-estimate ages of younger deer ( 3-7 years … > is also true antler! Before my time Shaq had only eaten twinkies throughout his career Arizona Strip buck pictured below has some unique... Gets some age on him bulls were clearly killed before the conservation era which started shortly.... Genetic makeup of the animal also plays a major role in nutritional intake as by maturity & Cabelas Gift.... Again in early spring than 2 inches per day in an adult male,! By a bud forming on the male cervid 's skull bull you are hunting in units elk antler growth by age can! Will soon start to regress in antler development the parents of the ears is normally a mature older! Gift Card of that category bigger bulls more large bulls under good elk management and conservation than.. Below shows an Iowa buck at ages 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and its nutritional intake roughly. Of 2.5 and 3.5 years old bulls under good elk management and conservation than without major role nutritional. Weigh 400 to 500 pounds before my time clearly killed before the conservation era which started shortly.... Of daylight and antler growth begins by a bud forming on the pedicel can gather from the sequence! Into this creature ’ s age now a chair can help place bucks into general age classes:,... 13 1/2 years old by carefully examining the antler equation management or public.... Younger deer ( 3-7 years … > of a couple different bucks and bulls drooling at through the scope!