Kerr WMA: Deer Research Projects

Presence or Absence of Brow Tines as a Predictor for Future Antler Characteristics in a Quality Deer Management Program

Whitetail Antler Whitetail Antler

Many landowners and sportsmen have often questioned why some mature bucks (4.5+ years old) do not have "brow tines." Since 1974, the Kerr Wildlife Management Area has been involved in a series of studies designed to determine the role of nutrition and/or genetics in antler development. We compared antler development based on presence of brow tines at 1, 2, 3, and 4 years of age. Antlers were collected from 1974-1997 from various penned-deer studies. Antlers were categorized as to number of points on the basic frame: if no brow tines were present, if only one brow tine was present, or if both brow tines were present. Data were analyzed based on the absence or presence of one or both "brow tines" and compared to antler weight (mass), body weight, antler points, antler basal circumference, antler spread, main beam length, and gross Boone and Crockett score at 1.5, 3.5, and 4.5 years of age. We examined antlers from 217 deer (N=651 sets) for which at least the first three sets of antlers were available and 168 deer (N=672 sets) for which at least the first four sets of antlers were available. Results showed that 90% of the bucks without brow tines at 3.5 and 4.5 years of age were spikes as yearlings. All bucks with 5 or more points as yearlings had both brow tines at maturity. All bucks without brow tines at 4.5 years of age had none when they were yearlings. All yearling bucks that had both brow tines had both brow tines at 3.5 and 4.5 years of age. In a related analysis, antler production also based on the presence or absence of brow tines within cohorts was compared.