Watching the bucks mature on the ranch in Texas is one of my favorite things to witness. In Texas, the ranches are so vast that we have the ability to not worry about other hunters shooting the younger deer. Let me clarify that, I am not one of those people that cares what anyone shoots. As long as it is legal and safe, I believe one should be able to shoot whatever they like. We choose to allow the bucks to grow into maturity so watching them mature is something really cool. I always find it fascinating that a seven-year-old buck in all of his splendor will still have the same characteristics as he did on his first set of antlers, only much bigger. It likewise is fun to watch how just changes in weather patterns can directly impact antler growth and over-all deer health. On dry years, the deer suffer far more than years when they literally wade through water over their knees. During the years when little rainfall hits the ground, the deer become leaner and they don’t even keep the same color. Along with those differences, their antler growth suffers by a huge factor. This makes the hunting season very difficult because it makes it hard to judge ages. After a drought, the majority of the bucks all look the same age. There is no obvious physical size difference between ages 3 and 7, their normal big belly isn’t there, and their behavior becomes more melancholy and lazy. Droughts, by far, have more negative impact on our deer then extreme wet years. I was surprised to learn this because it isn’t necessarily a lack of water to drink that’s the problem. We have water troughs all over the ranch and three creeks running the entire length of the property. I believe the drought stops the spring growth where the brow is concerned, and this is where the nutrients lie in this country. The brush down here is the main source of protein and if one looks closely during turkey season on a dry year you will not see the bright green small leaves that grow on the native brush. I’ve deduced that this is what causes the overall downfall of a buck’s year. Protein percentages in some of this native brush country is as high as 40% but I am of those opinions that if the leaves are allowed to mature before they are eaten, they become less desirable and possibly not as digestible. I also think that the years of heavy rainfall don’t have the negative impact because standing water, for the most part, doesn’t seem to affect the spring growth on the brush. After years of trying to understand this I think this hypothesis makes the most sense. I’m certainly not a biologist but after three decades of watching it happen over and over this seems to be what dictates the horn growth.