When do deer shed their antlers is difficult to answer as there are a number of factors like latitude, altitude, food availability etc. which impact the timing.
When Do Deer Shed Their Antlers
Rut season for deer varies as per location and species, and accordingly, the timing when deer shed their antlers varies as per rut season (Read: When Do Deer Rut). Experienced antler hunters are well aware that it is very difficult to try and guess when the deer will shed their antlers due to various factors at play.
The biggest factor which impacts the timing is latitude. Simply speaking, deer at different latitudes shed their antlers at different times. Bucks in the northern states typically shed their antlers around December. On the other hand, bucks in the southern states continue to shed their antlers through March and April.
Similarly, altitude is another important factor which impacts the time when the deer will shed their antlers. Altitude determines weather, depth of snow, availability of food and nutritional value of food, which combined all together impact the timing of antler casting.
Why Do Deer Shed Their Antlers
The reasons why the antlers are shed is much easier to answer. At the end of the rut season for deer, the testosterone level of bucks starts to fall. This decrease in testosterone level weakens the bones and tissues at the base of the antlers causing the antlers to fall.
Shedding of antlers is such a quick process that it is common for antlers to be strong one day and then fall off the next. Sometimes, bucks which are injured may shed their antlers even earlier. However, bucks that are at the peak of their physical fitness will usually keep their antlers longer than bucks that have started to weaken.
Most hunters used to earlier believe that bucks try to find some privacy before shedding their antlers. However, there is no evidence to suggest the bucks are even aware that their antlers are about to fall off. In fact, biologists are quite certain that the whole process doesn’t cause any pain or discomfort to bucks.