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GERONIMO Profile Photo
Deer Hunting in Louisiana

color of horns

Have a question about deer antlers color. What decides the color of their horns? Some are dark choclate & some are almost white. Just throwing this out here for some feedback, one of my hunting buddies asked me this question & I told him it was what they eat & minerals. He said someone told him, horns that are white is due to the deer staying in the sun & not in dark areas.
December 05, 2013 at 4:14pm
Dulacdat Profile Photo
Posted December 05, 2013 at 4:50pm

I don't know what causes it, but deer I killed in Bens Creek and Sandy Hollow north of Lake Pontchatrane had light colored horns that are also smooth. Deer killed in Maurepas Swamp have rougher and darker surface at the base of the horns. I'm not sure if it's the food, genetics or both.

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JB Profile Photo
Posted December 05, 2013 at 4:52pm
Horn Color

I was under the impression that it had to do with what that deer rubs his horns on. Not sure if this is true or not.

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beauxnarreaux Profile Photo
Posted December 07, 2013 at 10:35pm

the type of tree/bush they rub on will determine antler color. different saps will give different colors. pines tend to give darker color. maybe due to the sap itself or what sticks to the sap.

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GERONIMO Profile Photo
Posted December 08, 2013 at 4:31pm
color of horns

thanks for the comments

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red river cat man Profile Photo
Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:48am
This may help muddy up things.

Theories abound on how antlers get their individual coloration, though none has yet been proven conclusively.

Antler Coloration: Chocolate or Vanilla?Some have suggested it's a result of the type of trees that are rubbed and how the sap reacts with dried blood. However, wildlife Bob Zaiglin has observed hundreds of bucks confined in breeding facilities containing only mesquite trees; and their antler colors varied from light to dark.

Others have suggested relative exposure to sunlight as a factor. It may be purely coincidence, but this theory gains some credibility based on the fact that bucks from densely forested areas tend to have darker antlers than those in more open habitat. For example, bucks from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Maine and Quebec's Anticosti Island - where the habitat is dominated by softwoods - are famous for their dark 'chocolate' color, while those from more open areas of Midwestern and Western states are often lighter.

However, this theory loses credibility when you note that some bucks from all these areas exhibit a range of rack tones.

Noted whitetail photographer, Charlie Alsheimer, favors the genetic theory. He bases that on decades of observing and photographing captive whitetails that rub the same tree species but have different colored racks.

Yet another theory suggests that darker racks are more common in older deer because they require more blood and chloroplasts, which react with sap, and could result in darker color.

My personal observation - and it's nothing more than that - from hunting deer across their geographic range, is that older deer do tend to have darker racks. I've hunted numerous managed-properties where hunters are encouraged to shoot only mature bucks. When describing a buck I saw, one of the first questions the outfitter or manager asks is, 'what color was his rack?'

The best answer I can offer is that some or all of the above likely contribute in some way, at some time to the coloration of an individual deer's rack.

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GERONIMO Profile Photo
Posted December 10, 2013 at 10:33am
color of horns

red river cat, Tks, for the info, looks like we will be discussing this at the coffee pot, I hunt in Terrebonne parish & have seen marsh deer with both light & dark horns, but deer in wooded areas are mostly darker in color.I'm leaning towards the type of trees ,age,& the enviroment they live in as all contributors.

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red river cat man Profile Photo
Posted December 10, 2013 at 4:59pm

Yea it will take a lot of coffee to solve this. The article came from a buckmaster mag online I think. Good hunting and God bless

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Tomsawyer94 Profile Photo
Posted December 10, 2013 at 9:44pm
good question

I'm not sure it has much to do with age. I have several very small 4 points I see often with very dark horns. When I was younger I killed a very young buck with chocolate horns as well. and Old deer on camera with heavy almost white horns. I thinks its more genetics. Or a combination of everything. Whatever it is good question.

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