Landowners and biologists in south Texas are investigating the early dropping of antlers by otherwise healthy bucks.  In 2007 and again in 2010 these otherwise healthy bucks shed their anglers during late summer and early autumn, often while still in velvet. 

Several the bucks began growing antlers again.  The second sets of antlers were small but they shed the velvet as is normal with deer. 

The first reports and requests for more information came to my attention through Deer Associates Newsletter of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center.  (

Daniel Kunz and David Hewitt began looking into this phenomen in 2007 when they found the deer in question had only a burr present or antlers only a few inches long.  They were mostly middle aged or mature.  The antlers were not broken, just stunted.  At that time they concluded the antlers resulted from a genetic abnormality in a small percent of the deer herd. 

The numbers of deer affected were perhaps a dozen out of herds of hundreds of bucks.  But in 2010 the situation arose again. 

One possibility was that both years had wet summers followed by a dry year.  At this point the scientists believe the cause can be that a specific plant, mold, or ingested material could disrupt hormonal balance in the deer or cause a condition similar to ergot poisoning in livestock. 

Initial testing found that the only difference between the antler shedding bucks and normal bucks on the same land is below average bone density.

 The plan at this point is to capture and tag the antler shedding bucks so that they can be observed next year to see if the condition reappears.


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