As the search for shed antlers ends, the excitement of whitetail antlers begins again.
A few weeks ago, my family was surprised by a pair of visitors who made their way into our yard. They came to feast on the delectable young grass remained dormant under a pack of snow until now. The deer were cool, calm, and collected—until my father exclaimed, “Hey, Kyle, I think those are bucks!”
Everyone in my family piled into the nearest windows. I could faintly make out the slightest bump of velvet-covered antler. This pair of bucks had just started growing their antlers, yet my entire family was much more intrigued by the deer than what was on television.
The deer finally got nervous from all the staring eyes and eventually made their way back into the woods. My mother rambled on about how she hoped they would come back. It was in this moment that I realized just how much excitement antlers bring to people, whether they are hunters or not.
I was not a hunter that day, nor will I be hunting those elusive whitetails for another five months. But in that moment, I was what hunters must be: conservationists. I became a fan of those two bucks in a matter of minutes. I hoped they would get the nourishment they needed and rooted for them to outwit the hunters. Maybe I’ll see them from the tree this year. Still, I just can’t help rooting for their survival.
For some, the morning thunder of turkeys gobbling may occupy some of our thoughts. For many others, this marks the start of an obsession and the beginning of this year’s whitetail crush.
All of this is part of the excitement of whitetail antlers.
Food plots, habitat restoration, and even major NGO’s like QDMA are part of this revolution sparked by the excitement of antlers. People want to see more of these mystical, secretive creatures. It’s created a conservation movement that has benefitted much more than just deer.
The obsession with antlers, especially big antlers, has many hidden negative impacts on the overall acceptance of hunting. There is some of this even within the hunting culture itself, but we’ll save that for another article.
People always want to see bucks.
They want to see the magnificent crown of antlers the deer has grown over the year. That doesn’t mean it has to be a Northeast Big Buck Club or Pope & Young caliber deer, either. Any whitetail antler brings a degree of excitement we all experience.
Working in a crowded neighborhood this past fall, I came to a small traffic jam. Looking ahead, I saw a beautiful 10-point buck bedded with a hot doe on the side of a house. These cars weren’t all filled with trophy drunk rednecks drooling over a big set of antlers they’d like to have on their wall. These cars were filled with mothers, grandmothers, children, hunters, non-hunters, and everyone in between. They were all stopped to take pictures of what was a truly beautiful creature.
I’m confident in telling you that if this were a big doe of the same age, these innocent bystanders would not have even slowed down. There’s just something about antlers that sparks a shot of adrenaline through our veins. Maybe it’s the fact that we do not see bucks quite as often as does. When we see one, it’s a pleasant surprise. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I’m happy knowing that for this year, the excitement for whitetail antlers has just begun.