Kerr WMA: Deer Research Projects

Antler Characteristics and Body Mass of Spike and Fork-antlered Yearling White-tailed Deer at Maturity: 1994-1998 (144 deer)

Conducted by Dr. Jim Ott, Dr. John Baccus and Scott Roberts of Southwest Texas State University

Whitetail Antler Whitetail Antler
deer antlers

This study compared antler characteristics and body mass of 144 white-tailed deer at 4.5 years of age that were reared in the pens from 1973 to 1990. All yearling deer were classified as yearlings (spike, fork, 3-5 pts, and 6+ pts) and live body weight recorded. At 4.5 years of age the gross Boone and Crockett score (GBC) was measured. The average GBC score of adult deer that were fork-antlered yearlings (127.8) was greater than those of spike-antlered yearlings (89.9). Adults that were fork-antlered yearlings also had greater tine lengths and beam circumferences at each of the 4 GBC measurement positions. At 4.5 years of age, mean body mass was also greater for the fork-antlered group (78.7 kg) than for the spike-antlered group (66.7 kg). Average GBC scores of adults that had 6 or more points as yearlings (134.0) exceeded that of adults that were spike-antlered as yearlings by 44 GBC points. These results show that classifying yearlings as spike or fork-antlered is useful in predicting antler characteristics and body mass at maturity. This project was an extension of the original Ott study completed in 1990. Three MS theses were produced as a result of these projects.

The 18 antler sets are from 4 year-old deer that were fed the same diet throughout their lives. The 6 sets of antlers on the left were from deer that had at least 6 points as yearlings. The 6 sets in the middle were from deer that had 3-5 points as yearlings. The 6 sets on the right were from bucks that were spikes as yearlings.