Impact of Plentiful Rains on Buck Antler Size

(Jeff Phillips photo)

From the Northeast to the Midwest to – yes, believe or not – Texas, it has been a spring of epic proportions, rain wise. Rarely has so much of the country received so much rain in a relatively short period of time.

Areas of Texas and Oklahoma went from extreme drought to extreme floods, and the saturated grounds of the Midwest have delayed crop planting in many areas. Water is obviously requirement for life, but too much can have a negative impact.

In terms of deer, the stress of not having enough water can wreak havoc on the body and antler size of bucks. But too much water can often have the same effect. With that in mind, how will 2015 hunting potential result from the spring rains?

Let’s start with a positive. Many Texans have finally seen their decade-long rain dance pay off. Although some areas may have received too much rain – downtown Dallas – the deer hunting mecca of South Texas is looking more like an Amazonian jungle. But the lush, native vegetation booming with nutrients is sure to make this season one for the record books – literally, with bucks entered into B&C and P&Y.

Travis “T-Bone” Turner of Michael Waddell’s Bone Collector offered a positive, silver-lining opinion that should get hunters in Texas and Oklahoma excited about this fall.

“All the rain in Texas and Oklahoma will increase valuable deer forage and help put on body weight and big antlers,” T-Bone said.

From year to year, antlers have the potential to boom, or bust, due to the availability of resources. With this year being one of the best rainfall years since the 1980s, South Texas deer hunters could be in for one heck of a year. Randy Birdsong, of HeadHunters TV, couldn’t agree more.

“This rainfall may equate to some of the best antler growth we’ve seen in a few years,” Birdsong said.

For the Northeast, and even Southeast, we are likely in for an average year. Although moisture in some areas has delayed plantings, it’s shaping up to be a solid year of hunting. That said, it only takes one tropical system to come through the Gulf of Mexico and move up the Eastern seaboard in order to cause massive flooding.

Nate Hosie, also of HeadHunters TV, views all the rain as a positive and agrees with T-Bone and Songbird.

“I think that with all the rain this year, we should see a substantial increase in antler growth on bucks this coming fall,” Hosie said.

The Midwest is hit or miss. Some areas have got their crops in the ground and although saturated, are actively growing. Others missed the “dry” window and now have nothing in the ground. Though antlers will be majority affected by native habitat, the high quality crops absent will absolutely affect the deer.

All of this may sound pretty good to the weekend-warrior deer hunter, but there are a few negatives from all of the rain and flooding.

Flooding can submerge areas of prime native foods and condense deer populations, which limits resources of food and space in given areas. The receding flood waters also can leave behind large mud flats, which are the primary breeding grounds for the Hemorrhagic Disease carrier, Culicoides midge.

Keep that in mind as we enter August and September.

Overall, some areas should expect to see the best antler development in years. Others may be in for a good season with average to slightly above buck size. Yet many inundated areas may have less than average antler and body size.

All of these “ups” and “downs” are simple reminders of the powerful and unpredictable effects of Mother Nature.

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