This is a very good question and one we are asked quite often by young hunters here at the Hunting Magazine.
For most whitetail deer and other deer species throughout North America deer generally shed their antlers in early winter, after the final stage of the rutting season ends.
The reason for the deer’s antlers is to help him defend his breeding territory, so at the end of the rut, the buck’s antlers have accomplished their job and are not ready to be shed. There is also a biological change with the deer’s hormones that causes the antlers to shed off one at a time.
This is the decline of testosterone after the deers breeding season has ended. This slow decline of testosterone triggers the hormones to reabsorb calcium in the bone around the pedicle of the antler and thus it becomes weak and sheds off. As, mentioned this happens, as early as December for some deer and as late as early to late March for other deer.
A buck’s antler growth is a costly endeavor for the deer and all of the right things need to be in place for a buck’s antlers to really grow to what most hunters would consider trophy size. The antlers are often times very heavy and thus take a lot of energy for the bucks to carry around – so shedding the antlers is one of nature’s ways of allowing the bucks to concentrate on themselves now. As they’ll need to get plenty of rest and food back into them so they can survive the long cold winter ahead of them.
We hope this helps to answer your question of when do deer lose their antlers? If you have more questions regarding whitetail deer or deer hunting, please feel free to email our editors and they’ll be happy to answer your questions.