Watching Antlers Change Over Time

The aging whitetail deer is a mysterious creature. When we see a small-spiked buck, we wonder if it will always have a spindly spike horn, or whether that horn grow into a handsome trophy. How long will that take? This article follows a buck from its first rack until its last; it’s one of the most interesting deer posts you’ll see. Charles Alsheimer is a world-renowned deer photographer who documented this buck’s entire antlered life for Realtree.

The process of getting a whitetail from the button buck stage to the Boone and Crockett category is a mystical journey that includes a complex assortment of variables. It takes four basic ingredients to produce a buck with a 170-inch rack: genetics, habitat, herd management and age.

Too often hunters feel they can tell a buck’s potential by the kind of antlers it grows as a yearling. I’ve been fortunate to have hunted whitetails from New York to Texas to Saskatchewan, with many stops along the way. I’ve also had the unique opportunity of raising whitetails and studying their behavior for a quarter century. My journey as a hunter, photographer and researcher has taught me a few things about the whitetail. And one is that the size of a yearling’s antlers is seldom a predictor of what its antlers it will be when it fully matures.

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