NEW YORK (WWTI) — Did you know that whitetail bucks shed their antlers during winter months in response to dropping testosterone levels associated with increasing daylight? We know now this interesting information thanks to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Many hunters search for shed antlers to use as collectibles or to build things like lamps and furniture. They can also use the antlers to determine which bucks made it through hunting season.

DEC says that shed antlers can be used to indicate the health and habitat quality of deer. They say to look at the base of the antler, also known as the pedicle seal. If the seal is level with the burr or concave, DEC says it’s a good indication that the buck was under some kind of environmental or physical stress during the previous fall, or breeding season.

DEC says that a poor seal can also result in earlier antler shedding.

If the seal is deep or there is a large protrusion of bone below the burr, DEC says the buck was likely in good physical condition during the breeding season.

Environmental stress caused by drought, disease outbreaks or poor habitat quality can lead to poor pedicle seal development and early antler shedding, according to DEC. Experts say it can also be an indication that the deer population has exceeded the carrying capacity of the local habitat and bucks are experiencing nutritional stress.

You can learn more about deer health and improving their habitat on the DEC’s website.