Impact Of Drought On Antler Growth

Ed K. from Illinois writes to ask about the impact of drought on antler growth. “Apparently we are in the midst of the worst drought in history for the Midwest (in 2012). Farmers here have already cut their corn for silage. How much will this drought impact antler growth?”

Dr. Dave Samuel

There are no real data on “how much” deer will lose in antler growth, but they definitely are affected. My guess is that antlers will be at least 20 percent smaller than they would have been with good rain.

There is no question that deer have larger antlers when they eat good from March to August, and this drought is definitely impacting deer food. Good food is especially critical during the first three months of antler growth, but antler growth also takes a hit with poor food in August.

With the worst drought in modern history (including the dust bowl days of yesteryear), antler growth will be down a bit this season. 

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of‘s content at Dr. Dave studied deer for 30 years as a wildlife management professor at West Virginia University. In addition he has been a bowhunter for over 40 years, with deer being his main prey. He’s also an outdoor writer and has been with “Bowhunter” magazine for more than 31 years.

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