Stress and antler strength


Active Member
Got a question for the experts, both my buddy and me have pictures of the biggest most mature bucks in their area, but both have broken a main beam clear off. Also both have broken quite awhile after velvet shed. Plus we both have smaller bucks that have broken mains as well

Both these bucks are big deer, the most dominant in the area, that have access to all the corn beans and alfalfa they can eat. And we both supply feed with minerals in them, though we usually dont start until June or July. Both deer are far enough apart that they cant fight each other. Both are definitely the same deer

Our area got hit pretty hard in March with all the water, could some of that stress lead to weaker antlers?


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I don’t think it’s related to the water. More likely that you have a healthy herd with a balanced sex ratio and the boys are really fighting. I believe Baker sees the same thing on his property.
Pretty awesome thing to watch two mature bucks going at it. They can really whack one another. If the hit occurs just right the leverage could easily break a main beam, especially if hit near the end.

I don’t know how much good minerals do but I would think January through August would be the best time to provide them. Early availability helps them get over the stress of the rut, and from March/April on it would help the antlers theoretically.
I know they can really go at it, just odd weve seen so many broken main beams in the same year. That's why we got to wondering, if it was just one or smaller bucks it wouldnt have been as odd. It takes alot to break a good sized main beam like that.

I know of at least 3 other bucks that are broken off, but they're smaller, like 2x2s.

Guess that means he'll be bigger next year lol. Any guesses to age and size? I've got some more I'll post up of some of the other bucks on this property too

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I'm almost embarrassed to add that our only other idea was maybe that because we had plenty of rain all summer, way more than normal, that maybe they ate TOO good.

That idea was based on our knowledge that cattle dont gain weight on the soft tender green grass, it mostly goes right through them. But when the grass starts to turn "hard" and dry up in the early fall, that's when they start to put on lots of weight.

As you can tell, were about as far from deer biologists as you can get lol

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I found a broken antler one spring while shed hunting. It was the base and brow and everything beyond the brow was gone. The beam was over 5" in circumference at the break. I found it hard to imagine that a beam that thick could break. But looking at it closer, the solid outer "shell" of the beam was only around 1/8" thick. The rest was a very porous center. I was sawing some smaller antlers into dog chews a few years later and noticed that on those MUCH smaller sheds, that outer shell was about 1/4" thick. That would make the antler much stronger and less prone to break I am sure. Not sure what would cause it (genetics/stress/nutrition/age), but it was definitely the reason such a large antler broke that way. So when does that outer ring form? Is it always present while the antler is growing? Does it form when the antlers are hardening shortly before velvet is shed? Perhaps there was a great deal of nutrition when the bulk of the antler grew, but there was a stress when that hard outer layer was forming. I don't know enough about the antler cycle to know exactly what happens.