The buck reaches antler maturity at six years. Over its lifetime, the deer will develop and shed antlers, with new, uniquely-shaped antlers appearing each time.
Generally, antlers grow in about 120 days. This timeline of deer antler growth by year demonstrates what antlers will look like with age after the deer grows and sheds its antlers throughout the year.
One Year Old
Young fawns will reach about 10% of their optimal antler growth. While their antlers come in all shapes and sizes, most of their antlers look like thin beams sticking out by their ears. The deer that will have the strongest and largest antlers later in life are those that have multiple tines at a young age.
Two years Old
At two and a half years old, a buck will reach about 25% of its optimal antler growth. By this point, a healthy buck should have antlers as wide as its ears. They may also start showing signs of how many deer tines they will have when they fully mature.
Three Years Old
Most bucks have reached more than half of their optimal antler growth by three years old. At this age, its neck should be full and its chest should be deep. The spread of the antlers should grow past the width of the ears with an adequate mass.
Four Years Old
At four years old, the buck has developed into a strong, healthy deer. It is skinnier than it will be at full maturity. Most bucks reach more than three-quarters of their optimal antler growth at age four.
Five to Seven Years Old
Generally, bucks' antlers fully mature between five and seven years old. During this time, they have also reached their optimal body mass to have a full, strong appearance. The fullness and complexity of their antlers will depend on their access to nutrition and their genetic makeup.
Eight Years and Older
Since most free-range deer are hunted during their prime age of five to seven, you will find few deer older than eight years old. Until this age, deer antlers get bigger each year. As deer age, the shape and size of their antlers will decrease and their body mass will shrink. A deer of this age will have weathered antlers to show their fights with other deer and their journey through life.