Ask The Biologist

Better Late Than Never

Better Late Than Never

By Bob Humphrey

Is it possible a buck could still be rutting in April, even in Alabama?

QUESTION: I hunt in northeast Alabama, on the Tennessee state line. I’m not surprised to see bucks with one antler but was surprised to see this 8-pointer still had both its antlers in April. I was really surprised to see jet black hocks. I always thought that was a sign of rutting. So, my questions are: How unusual is it for a buck to still have both antlers this time of the year? From the same camera I have a buck that has about 2 inches new antler growth already as well.

Is there another reason the hocks are so black, or am I mistaken that is a sign of rutting? — Ronny H.

ANSWER: It is a bit unusual to see a buck carrying both antlers so late into the spring, and there could be several reasons for it. Both start and cessation of antler growth are controlled by hormones. Perhaps the buck suffered some type of injury or disease during the fall that affected its body’s ability to produce or limit the hormones necessary to promote shedding. As for the dark hocks, that could simply be the result of a nighttime picture. Or it could be related to whatever is making this buck keep his antlers. Maybe his biological clock is off a few months. Some of nature’s mysteries are just unexplainable.

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Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd.

Copyright 2017 by Buckmasters, Ltd