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Thread: ? for the caribou experts

  1. #1

    Default ? for the caribou experts

    Recently a friend of mine and myself each took our first caribou. I haven't thought much of thier horn configuration till now except for the whole double shovle is an older animal. My friends bou had tall skinny horns, not a lot of points (8X8), and was a double shovel. Mine was shorter but twice as thick with more points (13X14), the points were also very long, and they made more of a circle, yet only had one shovel. Both animals were almost identical in size.

    So I guess my question is do caribou start regressing their horn growth or did I just shoot a younger mature bull. Pulling the teeth isn't an option since I shot mime in the head.

  2. #2
    Member broncoformudv's Avatar
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    The double shovel is genetics not age, aside from that i can't help you.

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    Default ? for the caribou experts

    Took one several years ago with a HUGE single shovel in front, the bulkiest i've seen, and the tops were very long and skinny with 8 or so points each but just starting to branch out most only an inch or two.


    Caribou antlers are really variable, is what I'm saying...

    Double shovel is unique, usually one dominates and the other never develops beyond a small point. I thought it as just environmental and not genetics....is there a study that shows it to be genetics?

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    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    Antler size, shape and colors are affected by various factors such as: genetics, diet, age, habitat and health of the animal. This applies to all deer species.
    “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." ~Calvin Coolidge~

  5. #5

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    I read somewhere 1 in 1000 have double shovels? I shot an unusual one this year. 36 total points with heavy palmation and stickers. Very cool! Only one shovel however.

    Don

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    I have taken nice caribou both in unit 23 and unit 13. From what I have seen different parts of the state produce different rack traits. I think it is genetic and nutrition. This fall was my first double shovel out of 25-30 bulls taken over the years. This double was a big animal (body size) but not a huge rack. The shovels curled in like your fingers when you play the child's game "here is the church, here is the steeple". Very interesting to say the least!

    What I have noticed about unit 13 bulls is they tend to be a taller rack (Big Bulls) where WACH animals tend to be more horseshoe in shape. A few years back a took a big bull that had a shovel that measured 10+ inches-simply huge. The thing I like about bou is every rack is different and worth looking at, except the dinkers!


    Enjoy!

    Walt
    Northwest Alaska Back Country Rentals
    Kotzebue Alaska-The home of 350,000 caribou!

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    Member mod elan's Avatar
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    Never taken a double shovel, but this single shovel is amazing.


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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Pictures, gentlemen...pictures!

    As for caribou antler growth, I don't think you can necessarily correlate antler configuration to age among different bulls. Some grow long, graceful main beams, while others grow shorter, more massive beams with more tines as opposed to longer tines. That's what I love about caribou - there really is no "normal" or "typical" like you see with most other deer species.

    Thanks for that picture, bronco - that shovel is awesome!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Here's one of mine that had a pretty cool single shovel and lots of neat growth up top along with a flattened out drop point off the back, but not near the length on the main beams as one like my wife's caribou. These both were very large-bodied caribou, so I assume they were both among the older age class of bulls.




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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    ever notice how the side with the big shovel is a little diminished of the other side with the smaller or no shovel?






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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    And then my friend shot this one this fall - not much for a shovel, but great length and lots of stuff going on up top. It was a mature bull, no doubt, but wasn't as large-bodied as the two bulls above:



    And my nephew's caribou from last year, which had very little for a shovel and not a ton of points, but had great beam length and awesome width. It was a pretty darn big body, as well. There's just no telling with caribou antler growth - each one is unique.


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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    and the Haul road bull off the Kuparik... just as large and mature a bull as the 20A Alaska Range bull but a considreably lesser rack, a tiny singly shovel .. but nearly as wide and as much mass .. and a BRUTE for that area..

    "If you are on a continuous search to be offended, you will always find what you are looking for; even when it isn't there."

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  13. #13

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    Thanks guys. I thought this might be and interesting thread. I will be sure to post some pics in a week or so when I get back to town.

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    Member whitewolf2025's Avatar
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    It's a combination of age, nutrition, and genetics, as others have said. I've worked at LARS where caribou and reindeer (technically the same species) are fed all the food they can eat, and there is still some difference between same-aged animals as to whether or not they develop shovels, # of tines, etc... Caribou tend to have tall, skinny antlers while reindeer tend to have short, wide antlers. So there is some genetic difference between subspecies.

    I helped out on a study where some animals from different herds in interior AK were captured as calves and raised together in a "common garden" type experiment (different genotype animals are raised under same environmental conditions, so any differences should be genetic). We had two bulls from the Hodzana herd, one from Macomb and one from the White Mountains. Macomb and White both grew huge antlers, while the Hodzana bulls were slightly smaller. It'd be interesting to calculate the heritability of antler size.

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    03caribou8.jpgAttachment 63435Attachment 63434


    Interesting discussion...a question I too have always wondered. Here's a cross section from around the state:

    Photo 1) Bull in velvet, double shovel, Mulchatna herd.
    Photo 2) Two bulls, one single shovel with long tops - one double shovel with wimpy tops, Western Arctic Caribou Herd.
    Photo 3) Biggest bodied (old?) bull I've seen in person, below average antlers, Nelchina herd.

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    Photo #3 Attachment 63438

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