All summer long we’ve been watching bucks grow antlers, they grew bigger by the week and you knew (or hoped) this year would be the year you would have that “Booner” to chase. Well, we hate to burst your hope bubble but if he isn’t a Booner now, he never will get there (at least this year), the antler growing time has long since passed. What you are seeing on the back 40 is what you will be seeing when the season opens or the rut peaks or whenever you plan on hanging him on the game pole.

                                               The Transformation

The outer skin of the antler (velvet) is peeling as you read this, in fact most antlers will be velvet free by mid-month. Antlers stopped growing and began to calcify (harden) roughly a month ago. It’s all testosterone driven and pretty much depends on the amount of daylight a buck receives each day (photoperiod). Extensive research has been conducted on antler growth and for the most part it plays out the same way year after year. Sure age, nutrition, and genetics, has something to do with antler size but unless your deer live under a grow light, it’s all over for the year,when the days start to shorten and the testosterone starts flowing, everything goes on auto pilot as far as antler growth is concerned.

The outer skin of the antler (velvet) is peeling as you read this, in fact most antlers will be velvet free by mid-month.

So, if you’ve been watching a “monster” all summer and last week when you saw him last he would score around 140-150 you had better give up on him becoming a Booner (170”). What you are seeing now is pretty much what you will be getting this season. But, a nice 140” 10 pointer is a great deer in anybody’s book and there is always the one you never saw.

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Craig Dougherty
Craig Dougherty has been a staple of the hunting industry for over 35 years. He has held senior executive and board level positions with multiple archery and firearms companies, and industry organizations. He was Chairman of the Board of the Quality Deer Management Association and was instrumental in the formation of the National Deer Alliance. He has and his son Neil have published books on deer management and hunting, and have written hundreds of articles and appeared on hunting TV and at countless sportsman’s events. The pair founded NorthCountry Whitetails a deer hunting and property management company, where they manage over 300,000 acres of deer hunting property for clients across the nation. visit: