Factors Associated with Variation in Antler Characteristics in Iowa Deer

Iowa is nationally renowned for having a high quality white-tailed deer herd, along with producing trophy-class antlers. The size of these antlers are the result of a deer’s age, genetic background, and its environment.


The objective of this study is to quantify variation in antler characteristics across Iowa and identify if there are any ecological factors such as land-use type, the amount of vegetation, or soil type associated with that variation. We hypothesize that the row crop agriculture found across the majority of the state provides deer populations across Iowa sufficient access to quality nutrition such that age and genetics are the main factors responsible for variation in antler characteristics and that ecological factors will have minimal influence.


We will evaluate the amount of variation in antler characteristics and attempt to identify factors that affect these characteristics by measuring antlers of harvested deer and by gathering information of where the deer were harvested. Samples will come from harvested deer across the state of Iowa over the next three hunting seasons (2016-2018).

At the conclusion of this research, we expect to have a better understanding of factors associated with variation in antler characteristics in Iowa deer. This is important because results and management recommendations from previous studies in different landscapes are not likely applicable to Iowa.  These data will also contribute to ongoing efforts by our group, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and others to better understand the health of the Iowa deer herd.

Contact Us 

If you have any questions about the study or would like to participate by having us measure your harvested deer, please contact Dan Adams, MS student, at dmadams@iastate.edu  --- Updates about the project and ways to get involved in the project will be posted on this website.