Moisture and its effect on antler growth
Food Plots
Messages posted to thread:
Osceola 16-Oct-18
Zbone 16-Oct-18
Will 16-Oct-18
Elkhorn 16-Oct-18
TrapperKayak 16-Oct-18
TrapperKayak 16-Oct-18
Elkhorn 16-Oct-18
Buffalo1 16-Oct-18
DConcrete 16-Oct-18
Medicinemann 16-Oct-18
Rocky D 16-Oct-18
Michael 16-Oct-18
BigOzzie 16-Oct-18
EmbryOklahoma 16-Oct-18
Elkhorn 16-Oct-18
bdfrd24v 16-Oct-18
MK111 19-Oct-18
drycreek 19-Oct-18
Bowriter 19-Oct-18
Buffalo1 20-Oct-18
Bowriter 20-Oct-18
RK 20-Oct-18
drycreek 21-Oct-18
elkstabber 23-Oct-18
MK111 24-Oct-18


From my observation, it appears antler growth is minimal to average during wet years and average to great during dry years. On average, it seems I have bigger racked bucks on drier years. Does anyone know if there has been any studies on this and has anyone else had similar observations.

On my hunting areas moisture amount and timing were outstanding as was my food plot growth. Bucks I have identified in the past did not seem to put on much antler growth, if at all. There also seems to be an inordinate amount of extremely small spikes and forked bucks.

I hypothesize that it has to do with the deer eating more dry material to get full, thereby taking in more nutrients per full stomach load than when the eating wetter material that is made up of a higher % of water and ultimately less nutrients per stomach load. However, that is just an uneducated guess.

By: Zbone

Think I read once the other way around but don't really know... The wetter the summer the the higher content of nutrients in the plant providing better antler growth, but as said, don't really know...

By: Will

Going only on memory, and I barely slept last night between late work, crazy wind and early wake up to go hunting... So my memory is likely not great.

But, I am pretty confident there was an article in Deer and Deer Hunting several years back, the research article normally done by John Ozaga, that said wet years = larger antlers, on average.

My gut say's age and good food = larger antlers... So my guess is that wetness or dryness may pull it one way or another a little, but not make a 115" buck a 135" buck or something... Again though, just a guess, I'm no biologist.


I have noticed the same in my area. Bigger racks in dry years. Most of my province is a swamp and even on dry years there is enough moisture in the ground. This year was really dry here, had a bumper acorn drop, low mosquitos and ticks...all of which might contribute to the larger antlers.


All I know is that the more calcium consumed by the buck, the bigger and faster the antlers tend to grow. Whether that happens on wetter or drier years, I am not going to guess. I'd think that the earlier and the more 'green' grass they can eat, the bigger the antlers start out and grow eventually. I think if this grass availability lasts throughout the growing period, they will grow the biggest. Whether its dry or wet that matters, I don't know. Nutrients in the ground play a big role. Calcium in the grass comes from the nutrients in soil - limestone particularly.


Or browse, not just grass.


I had my soil tested once, it has an overload of calcium with low nutrients. I think being too wet dilutes or washes away a lot of it. I am no expert though. With amazing calcium but low nutrients my racks are average at best.


Wet spring/summer years= better antler or horn growth

Dry spring/summer years= not good antler or horn growth


Dry years are better for antler growth.

Otherwise, Oregon and Washington would have the biggest. Not Arizona , Utah, New Mexico. Nevada.


Interesting that the opinions are evenly split so far.....


X2,”From: Buffalo116-Oct-18Private Reply Wet spring/summer years= better antler or horn growth”

I think out west they figure elk antlers are about 10% larger with the wetter conditions at the right time.


I always thought the wet years produced more it’s time to rethink that train of thought. The dry years comments are interesting and definitely bring up good points.


And thus we have answered the age old questions.

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas. It all has to do with low moisture.



I've always heard and noticed, exactly what Buffalo1 stated.


Maybe ...in a desert- high moisture good. In a swamp low moisture good ?


Well we've had one of the rainiest years on record in Southern PA. I was really hoping for a great year as some very good bucks made it through the season. So far signs are pointing toward average to poor antlers. Maybe i'm just not catching the big boys on camera, but it sure was better last year and the year before which were much dryer. Time will tell.

By: MK111

I'm thinking you guys have too much time on your hands. Just spend more time looking for a larger deer with antlers.


Frank, I'm thinking you're right. What the hell can we do about it anyway ? It's gonna be what it's gonna be. If I wanted to think about it, I'd be thinking about how much moisture we had the fall before and going in to spring and how that affects a MATURE buck, one that mostly has his skeletal frame pretty well built.


There is one factor I have not seen mentioned. In extremely wet years, while in velvet, the slightest injury is prone to slower healing and possible damage. Is not concerned with growth, only injury.


I would love to hear Al Gore's opinion since he is the "Father of the Internet" and the "Father of Climate Change" on the impact of climate change on antler/horn growth. Since Bowriter and Gore are both from TN, I think he should accept the assignment to do an interview with Gore and post it on Bowsite !!


I think he lives in CA, now. Floated by his place on the river one time and Secret Service ran me off. That was many years ago. Folks here, can't stand him.

By: RK

I speak to anywhere other than where I am in Texas but dry years always produce bigger antlers. We are coming off a very bad drought and the antlers I've seen so far are incredible

The reason for this is simply the lack of food sources with the drought causes the deer to eat various brouse that they don't particularly like but are incredibly high in protein, thus great antler production.

The down side will be that there will be a reduced fawn survival rate this year. We have not counted yet but I suspect reduced fawn numbers when we fly at the end of Oct.


RK, I hunted Friday afternoon and Saturday on a place in Trinity County that I've hunted the last three years. We had zero rain this year from late May until the middle of September. All my plots burned up and I didn't get to plant fall plots until the third week of September. I saw more really nice 3 and 4 year olds on this trip than I did the whole season last year. For some reason the cool drizzly weather had them on their feet. I came to kill a doe for the freezer and it took me until yesterday afternoon to get it done. Every time I thought I was gonna get a shot a buck would run them out. Anecdotal at best, but it bolsters my opinion that the moisture from the fall and winter before is more important than the moisture of the current spring/summer.

I agree on fawn survival. Out of eight different does I saw this weekend, only one had fawns, but she had twins. The same thing behind my house. Coincidentally, both mothers of twins are young does. I thought old does were supposed to be the best mothers ??? I ain't necessarily buying that either....


Interesting question.

I've read in the Huntin Fool magazine (which focuses completely on western animals with big antlers) that a wet winter/spring will produce bigger antlers. In fact, they've recommended that their subscribers should save their points and not try to draw in a dry year because of the smaller antlers. They have said to carefully watch the moisture levels right up until the draw deadline. Because it would be shame to draw a great tag during a dry year (sarcasm).

It's interesting that a number of western experts say that antlers grow bigger during dry years.

By: MK111

Sorta sounds like a guy could waste his life away chasing the dream ideas of others.

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