Locked Antlers: Duel To The Death

Jay R. from Indiana writes to ask about bucks that get their antlers locked. "They found a pair of bucks with antlers locked in the county beside where I live. Both were dead. My friend thinks that happens a lot, but I do not. Does anyone know?"

Dr. Dave Samuel

Not really Jay. But, the antlers of bucks, especially the older ones that get their antlers locked, are shaped so that when two bucks face each other and put their heads together, their antlers are more designed to hold them together while they push and shove rather than to kill. If their antlers were designed to kill, we’d see long, pointed shafts, rather than bowl shaped antlers with points on the end. 

There are data to show that deer can absorb and survive antler puncture wounds in the chest cavity. But we have no real data on the incidence of bucks locking up and dying. We know it happens, but it is probably fairly rare. 

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Dr. Dave writes a weekly column for sportsmansguide.com. If you have a question for Dr. Dave, e-mail your question to Dr. Dave in care of Tom Kacheroski, senior editor of www.sportsmansguide.com‘s content at tkachero@sportsmansguide.com. 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 31 years.

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