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Reflect on each post as if it’s a live feed into the life of a “365 day a year whitetail & turkey fanatic”!

What Grows Antlers?

I was asked on FaceBook the other day…

What is the best product for putting inches on antlers?

"Monster RAXX Trophy Minerals and I always run a trial cam over the site..."

“Monster RAXX Trophy Minerals and I always run a trial cam over the site…”

I’m not sure there is an answer to that. Sure there are tons of products out there that are designed to help you “grow” big bucks. Do they work, some do for sure but there isn’t a secret product that in its self will just grow monsters. Aside from deer farming and some of the things they do, I’m only talking about wild deer.  Here’s the key to it all. Age, food, and the weather, are the three things that impact growth of antlers more than any of the others. Here is what you must understand, you for sure can’t control the weather and might not be able to control the age depending on how much contiguous land you own/control or if your adjacent landowners/hunters follow an age management plan. Genetics is yet another key factor that most hunters can’t control, so we will save that topic for a different day.


I know him well he’s 5.5 years old in this picture.

Before you ever worry about food plots, supplemental feeding and mineral sites you need to get the deer to at least 3 years old. Now a whitetail buck is physically mature at 4 ½ years old. Physically mature, this means they are not devoting energy to growing their body, they are just putting on muscle and fat at this point. When a buck is physically mature they really can put on the antlers. This is due to the available energy to devote to antler growth.

When we start talking about available energy I’m talking about body condition. Body condition is going to depend on how well they come out of winter and into spring. Here in Iowa, as well as the upper Midwest that is a bigger deal. We can easily have winter hold on well into April or we could have a very mild winter with temperatures in 50s and 60s in March. I know in 2012 we had just that, a very mild winter and early spring and I never had so many 150+ inch bucks running around. I felt many of them were 3 ½ year olds that over preformed in antler growth.

Love this buck, saw him many times last fall, can't wait to see him this year.

Love this buck, saw him many times last fall, can’t wait to see him this year.

When a buck is entering the spring at age 4 they still should have stored available energy left over and able to start antler growth immediately. Take a 2 year old and they are still growing and most of their energy is devoted to growing their skeleton. Think of them as a teenager. In saying all this, I believe that food plots, supplemental feeding and mineral sites as they apply to antler growth are best utilized by bucks 3 years and older. That’s not to say that there isn’t a use for them for younger bucks and does, but that’s not the question at hand. A buck needs to come into that 4th year with all the available energy they can. That starts at age three by providing year round food so that they have that little extra in the spring of year 4.


Soybeans are great in late summer but even better as winter food, when planted along with corn.

Now here in Iowa summer food is easy for them to find on their own, I’ll let the local farmers feed them during this time. What I want to make sure of is that there is food first thing in the spring.  For that I use Monster RAXX XXTREME Clover, clovers give you fast green browse first thing in the spring.  It will green up as fast as your yard does.

Next thing I do is run a mineral program. I have mineral sites set up in key areas near water. When I say near I mean within a few hundred yards not right next to the water. I use Monster RAXX Trophy Minerals and I always run a trial cam over the site.  This is great for buck inventory in the months of June, July and about mid-August. Why use minerals, same reason humans take vitamins. It fills in anything they are not getting from their everyday intake. Make sure you get a good mineral and not just something labeled as mineral, there should be a listing of what is in it.  Make sure you’re not buying a bag or bucket of salt.


Monster RAXX Clover XXtreme

Now what about winter food? If you want to make sure bucks come into the spring ready to grow you have to give them something to eat after the snow flies. If legal some might want to do supplemental feeding, I don’t but many others do. I instead opt for a winter food plot of soybeans and corn. Yes I mix them together and yes it works very well. This will insure that they have a supplemental food source to help get them through the winter months. Then I hope for a mild winter!


“If you don’t see this on the bag or the website, how do you know what you are getting…”

My point is there is no one secret product out there. You have to employ many management tools and/or products that effect a deer’s nutrition and body condition coming into the spring at age 3. There are great products out there and not so good ones. Research them and ask others who have used them, what is it that keeps them buying said brand. I have used Monster RAXX and they work great for me, yes they do sponsor Victory Outdoors but I and members of my team used them before they were sponsors.






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