FYI: The results outlined below have been carefully documented and studies in Louisiana have confirmed these findings.
Therefore, either the deer in two states are crazy or these findings can be repeated with other herds.
A Deer’s ‘Genetic Potential’
(1) “Antler development is genetically based. Not all deer have the same genetic potential.” (conclusions drawn by Texas Parks & Wildlife biologists) Nutrition AND ‘genetic potential’ are necessary for antler development.
If either one of these elements is missing, antlers don’t grow. They proved this by allowing spikes to breed with does in pens. There was nutritious food, vitamins, water, etc., yet a high percentage of the offspring were spikes!
(2) “Nutrition does affect antler growth.” So, no matter what the deer’s ‘genetic potential,’ if there isn’t sufficient nutrition for the deer, antler growth will be affected.
(3) “Early or late birth does not affect antler development if deer receive adequate nutrition.” Essentially, a spike is a spike. Earlier birthing did not turn a spike into an antlered deer.
The only relation between the lateness of birth and antler production seems to be: If the deer is born late in the season, it may be nutritionally deprived because there is less forage.
What nutrition is available is diverted to maintain and grow muscles — not antlers.
(4) “The majority of yearling spike bucks will produce smaller antlers and fewer points in following years than will fork-antlered deer.” Basically, they have proven that “what you see is what you’re gunna’ get.” Spikes seem to be a genetic trait that doesn’t improve over the years.
(5) “You can improve a herd by selectively removing inferior antlered deer and allowing the deer with good antlers to breed.” They asked the question: Could they remove the spikes and let the antlered deer reproduce? What would be the result?
By selectively reproducing with more-desirable traited (antlered) deer, something called “heritability” comes into play. The more desirable a trait is – the less likely there will be improvement.
Obviously, fully-antlered deer are highly desirable – therefore, removing the spikes will not cause all of the new deer to have antlers. Production of antlers traits are passed from one generation to another, however.
Next Time: Continue the 10 Commandments of Spikes
(1) The report I’m referring to is available online, as a pdf document at: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/publications/pwdpubs/media/pwd_lf_w7000_0247.pdf (It is 6 pages long.)
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