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Deer antlers confound us nearly as much as they fascinate and obsess us. As a population of hunters, we’re pretty good at quantifying them—the best of us guessing with surprising accuracy the inches of bone on a running buck at 100 yards—but we’re lousy at understanding how that buck grew his antlers, or explaining how those specific dimensions were achieved.

Maybe that’s part of the allure of antlers—their origin remains mysterious.

Trained wildlife biologists have only a little advantage. They can tick off the ingredients that go into building antlers, but they’re at a loss to predict with much accuracy how wide (or tall or heavy) a buck’s headgear will grow, or whether it will sprout a sticker point or a drop tine. And we are all even worse at predicting the specific conditions that result in outsize antlers come hunting season.

But ignorance doesn’t stop us from guessing. Around this time of year, you’ll hear your buddies (or at least, my buddies) cite various theories of antler growth. “Good rains in April make for heavy antlers,” some say. Others claim that cool, dry conditions that delay tick infestations allow more of a deer’s nutrients to go to antlers instead of fighting blood-sucking vermin. Some say early rains promote antler mass but later rains build tine length.
Research indicates no single element, whether meteorological or nutritional, is responsible for antler growth. Instead, the building blocks of antlers are familiar to any human parent trying to grow healthy bones in their offspring.
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Hit the link in profile to keep reading hunting editor @aemckean 's article on antler growth. Photograph by @markraycroftwildphoto  #deerhunting #hunting #whitetaildeer #bigbucks #shedhunting #velvetbuck #deerseason #wildlife #wilddlifebiology #antlergrowth #wildlifephotography
Deer antlers confound us nearly as much as they fascinate and obsess us. As a population of hunters, we’re pretty good at quantifying them—the best of us guessing with surprising accuracy the inches of bone on a running buck at 100 yards—but we’re lousy at understanding how that buck grew his antlers, or explaining how those specific dimensions were achieved. Maybe that’s part of the allure of antlers—their origin remains mysterious. Trained wildlife biologists have only a little advantage. They can tick off the ingredients that go into building antlers, but they’re at a loss to predict with much accuracy how wide (or tall or heavy) a buck’s headgear will grow, or whether it will sprout a sticker point or a drop tine. And we are all even worse at predicting the specific conditions that result in outsize antlers come hunting season. But ignorance doesn’t stop us from guessing. Around this time of year, you’ll hear your buddies (or at least, my buddies) cite various theories of antler growth. “Good rains in April make for heavy antlers,” some say. Others claim that cool, dry conditions that delay tick infestations allow more of a deer’s nutrients to go to antlers instead of fighting blood-sucking vermin. Some say early rains promote antler mass but later rains build tine length. Research indicates no single element, whether meteorological or nutritional, is responsible for antler growth. Instead, the building blocks of antlers are familiar to any human parent trying to grow healthy bones in their offspring. - Hit the link in profile to keep reading hunting editor @aemckean 's article on antler growth. Photograph by @markraycroftwildphoto #deerhunting #hunting #whitetaildeer #bigbucks #shedhunting #velvetbuck #deerseason #wildlife #wilddlifebiology #antlergrowth #wildlifephotography
"Ryan Warden became an expert on migratory gamebird regulations in 2011 after federal agents raided his Kansas duck lodge. He was later accused of breaking migratory bird laws—27 counts in total. Since Warden was an outfitter (taking money to take people hunting) each count was a felony. In the end, he avoided jail time and plead guilty to three misdemeanors: shooting one bird over his dove limit, shooting from a truck bed (he was sitting on the tailgate and you must have both feet on the ground to discharge a firearm), and not properly tagging his doves. Warden paid around $30,000 in fines and legal fees and was not allowed to hunt, fish, or trap in the U.S. for five years. He admits wrongdoing, but there were many rules he didn’t know. To assist the average hunter, he started a company called Toe Tags, LLC that helps hunters stay legal with proper tags, log books, and any other items you need when transporting, donating, or storing harvested waterfowl. After spending countless hours trying to understand migratory gamebird laws during a federal investigation, he found several of the regulations confusing and realized many waterfowlers are unknowingly breaking game laws. He’s doing his best to keep them informed, so they don’t make the same mistakes he did." - Hit the link in profile for the rest of @joegenzel 's interview with Ryan Warden, including a bunch of legal pitfalls for well-intentioned waterfowlers. #hunting #waterfowling #duckhunting #goosehunting #snowgeese #duckhunters #goosehunters #migratorygamebirds #canadageese #dovehunting #gamelaws
"Outdoor Life’s Shooting Editor from 1947 to 1978 routinely shot whitetails, mule deer, even sheep without the aid of range-finding devices. To Jack O’Connor “far” was 500 yards. His philosophy was to resist shots beyond 300 yards. But he also wrote “The hunter… should avoid the 400- and 500-yard shots if he possibly can, but … he should be prepared for them.” By today’s laser-guided standards, O’Connor’s ideas seem quaint, but before we dismiss them as products of primitive technology, let’s consider what he and his shooting system could do. Upon spotting a suitable animal, old Jack could, inside of a few seconds, assume the steadiest shooting position at hand, aim, fire, and hit his target. Out to 400 yards, rarely 500. No fumbling for a laser. No smartphone apps. No button pushing. No turret dialing. Just aim, shoot, and break out the skinning knife. O’Connor was able to do this because he zeroed his rifles to maximize their effective range. “I sight in to put the bullet three inches high at 100 yards,” he wrote. Three inches high? That strikes most 21st century shooters as excessive. The current fashion is to zero at 100 yards, then dial or select from a Christmas tree of reticle lines for 200, 300, 400, etc. Meantime, your buck steps into cover or runs away." - Hit the link in profile to keep reading @ronspomer 's article about JOC's long-range philosophy. Photograph from the @outdoor_life archives #jackoconnor #hunting #longrangehunting #longshots #sheephunting #rangetime #shootingsports #longrangeshooting
"To most anglers, shad are bait. Hack off a gizzard’s head, soak it on the bottom, and you might end up with a 50-pound blue cat. Slow-troll a lively threadfin behind a planer board, and it might get smashed by a fat landlocked striper. The American shad, however, transcends a means to an end; it’s the end result. Females—called “roes”—average 3 to 5 pounds in the Delaware River but commonly push 7 or 8. The world record taken in the Connecticut River in 1986 broke the 11-pound mark. For some (though not me, thanks), the payout is slow-baked shad, or shad roe sacks pan-fried in butter, both of which are considered delicacies. For most, it’s just about the fight. Fresh from the Atlantic and charging upstream against the swollen currents of spring, shad—like salmon—are on a mission to spawn. Stop that progress by sticking a shad dart or flutter spoon in a big roe’s face, and she gets mad. She’ll turn her wide body broadside and catch the flow, making a light spinning reel sizzle. She has a paper-thin mouth, so your drag better be loose, and your rod better not be too stout. She’ll change direction on a dime, zipping upriver so fast that you struggle to stay tight. You’ll also have to survive the jumps that earned her the nickname “Jersey tarpon.” I’m not the only angler who needs that first shad battle of the year to instantly cure months of winter depression. The calendar is irrelevant; it’s the arrival of these fish that tell us spring is here. Some years, our spring might not come until early April. Others, it starts the first week of March. Mother Nature makes that call, but luckily for every single American enjoying his or her freedom, she called it right in 1778, saving us from a lot more than cabin fever." - Hit the link in profile to keep reading @joe.cermele138 's story "American Shad," or pick up a copy of our spring Wild Rivers Issue. Photograph by @timromanophoto #shad #gizzardshad #americanshad #spring #springfishing #delawareriver #jerseytarpon #merica #baitfish