Amplifying that feeling this year is a sense of relief that deer populations are recovering from major stresses like drought and EHD that have hit herds hard in the last couple of years. Jerick Henley of Chain Ranch Outfitters previously reported that much-needed rainfall in Kansas came at the perfect time for antler growth. A buck Henley calls Big 10 is a perfect example of how mature bucks can recover quickly when conditions improve. A 130-class 2 ½-year-old last year (shown in the top left photo), the Kansas buck grew a whopping 20 inches of antler, putting it in the mid-150s range this year (at right). The downside, though, is that prolonged drought hit bucks like Big 10 hardest of all. "We're seeing at least 50 percent more fawns, but 1.5- to 3.5-year-old bucks are my main concern," Henley says. "There are fewer bucks in that age class due to the prolonged drought; when those bucks are 3.5 to 5.5 years old, we'll be missing the quantity we're used to."