Whitetail Buck

Deer Antler Growth and Supplements

When buck deer start growing their new set of antlers, they need extra phosphorus and calcium. They are unable to get enough from their natural forage, and studies have proven that they get the required minerals by leaching them from the bone in their rib cages.

So, two things are going on while antler growth is occurring. Bone tissue in the rib cage is eroding, and new bone is formulating. Antlers grow from the tip, where cartilage is replaced by bone. The rate of growth can be nearly incredible, as much as a ten of an inch per day, in the early period of antler growth.

Instinctively, excess amounts of calcium and phosphorus accumulate in the deer’s bones during the period prior to antler growth. Those two minerals are the most commonly found in antlers, but they also contain magnesium, sodium potassium, iron, zinc and other minerals.

Setting up a mineral lick and supplemental feeding area serves many purposes. The first one is that it supplements the natural forage with needed minerals. A product should contain calcium and phosphorous, and since these two minerals are not palatable, salt to sweeten the taste. The supplemental feeding bolsters the deer’s body condition during critical times, such as recovering from winter, growing antlers, summer drought and pre-rut/rut.

A side benefit to providing supplements to aid antler growth is that the male deer in the vicinity grow accustomed to using your hunting area, without pressure. In fact, it may be the first stop on a buck’s agenda when they leave their bedding area. If you opt for a feeder with a timer, you can offer the supplemental food during daylight hours.

Good genetics can only do so much. Deer need maximum nutrition to reach maximum antler growth, and we can take steps to help that happen. Here’s a look at feeders:

Moultrie Feed Station Gravity Deer Feeder

Moultrie Feed Station Gravity Deer Feeder

Anybody who’s used the gravity-style dog food dispensers will recognize this simple technology. The feeder comes with an attachment strap and will hold 40 pounds.


American Hunter Five-Gallon Digital Hanging Feeder
American Hunter 5-gallon Digital Hanging Bucket Feeder

This choice takes a simple, five-gallon bucket and adds the technology you need with a digital timer/dispenser, which runs on a six-volt battery. You can set it up from one to sixteen “releases”, and it holds 40 pounds.


American Hunter 225-pound Tripod Feeder

American Hunter 225-lb. Tripod Feeder

This can also be set up from one to sixteen “releases” and runs on the six-volt battery. This is a great option for hunting camps or leases, because it can hold 225 pounds of food. The eight foot, sectional, galvanized legs are adjustable, allowing you to set the unit up at the height you prefer.


Moultrie 30-gallon Easy Lock Feeder

Moultrie 30-gallon Easy-lock Feeder

Also runs on one six-volt, holds 200 pounds. This unit is easy to assemble and fill (stands under six feet tall) and can be customized with “release” time and amount.


Leave a Reply

Commenting Policy - We encourage open expression of your thoughts and ideas. But there are a few rules:

No abusive comments, threats, or personal attacks. Use clean language. No discussion of illegal activity. Racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally hateful comments are not tolerated. Keep comments on topic. Please don't spam.

While we reserve the right to remove or modify comments at our sole discretion, the Sportsman's Guide does not bear any responsibility for user comments. The views expressed within the comment section do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of The Sportsman's Guide.

One Response to “Deer Antler Growth and Supplements”

  1. C.J.Callaghan

    This was great information Lisa and I have found it to be true in my own studies and practices here on the farm over the last forty five years and I know how important it is to encourage and train our young people so they can enjoy the outdoors the way we parents have due to our parents doing the right thing with us all those years ago! Thanks again C.J.