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#6159270 - 01/28/16 10:19 AM Can we admit...
Tff caribou Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 08/27/12
Posts: 2996
Loc: Watauga, TX
That most of us are terrible at estimating the age of deer? I'm terrible at it, so I don't even offer up opinions, but I'm reading the "maybe next year thread" and see guess of 3.5, 4.5, 5, 6, and 7.5.

I posted a couple pictures during season and got everything from 2.5, gunna be a stud in 2 years, to 5.5, better shoot that deer.
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The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference. -George Washington

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#6159291 - 01/28/16 10:33 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
DQ Kid Online   content
Extreme Tracker

Registered: 02/20/12
Posts: 4068
Loc: Flower Mound, TX
No, I won't admit to that...He's 5+...Been doing this thing called deer hunting for nearly 40 years and regard myself pretty good at aging bucks. Takes time and practice - lots of it and helps to see lots of deer in field throughout the years..

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#6159292 - 01/28/16 10:33 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
Captain Luke Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 10/11/11
Posts: 1014
Loc: Duval County, Starr County
Originally Posted By: Tff caribou
That most of us are terrible at estimating the age of deer? I'm terrible at it, so I don't even offer up opinions, but I'm reading the "maybe next year thread" and see guess of 3.5, 4.5, 5, 6, and 7.5.

I posted a couple pictures during season and got everything from 2.5, gunna be a stud in 2 years, to 5.5, better shoot that deer.

One of those guesses is probably correct. haha bolt
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#6159302 - 01/28/16 10:39 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
Nogalus Prairie Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 11/22/10
Posts: 19263
Loc: Corsicana
I can't do it with any accuracy. I don't want to offend (because many are my friends and/or people I respect) - but I don't think anyone can "on the hoof" with any deer older than 2 1/2 unless they know the particular deer's history.

I have had several noted taxidermists and game biologists tell me it is, at best, a guessing game. Some are better guessers than others, but even they are wrong much if the time. This is based on labratory ages compared with stated ages in their experience over the years.

A mature buck's "look" undergoes dramatic changes throughout the year and from year to year based on a myriad of factors. Which is all the "on the hoof" guys have to go on if the deer's history is not known.

I'm sure this opinion will not sit well with some.....
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Originally Posted By: REALKILLER
That's the way I hunt don't know many that do. If a deer gets buy me I will try to run him down. Ive killed a bunch that way.



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#6159312 - 01/28/16 10:44 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
JHeflinland Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 12/11/12
Posts: 297
Loc: Hunt in Juno, TX
I think a lot of pictures are deceiving. I did some math this past year. I manage a pretty good size place and run all the cameras. I probably go through close to 100,000 game camera pictures per year. It takes a lot of pictures of a buck, from a lot of different angles for me to really make a decision on age. I can recognize some from year to year, which really helps, and that's about the only time that I will say something like "I think he's 6.5 this year". Most of the "Age him?" posts on here have 1 or 2 pictures of a deer, and usually very poor quality.

It's easier for me to put them in 3 age classes. Young (1.5-2.5), middle aged (3.5-4.5), mature (5.5 +).

Young bucks are easy and obvious.

Mature bucks are usually obvious, with post-mature being very obvious.

It's easy to tell if a buck is out of the "young" category, but the hardest part about it is whether to put them in middle-aged, or mature.

Even for me, looking at 100,000 pictures a year, and sitting in blinds 10X more than the guys on my lease, it's hard. Some bucks I will wait until I see them to determine age. And even then, I still am not 100% sure on the bucks I usually throw in the middle aged category. Our rules are to only shoot 5.5 year old deer and better. It's even harder for the guys that only hunt a couple weekends a year. We have screw-ups every year, and this is why I don't come off my rocker about it. Everyone makes their best effort. After most guys watch a bunch of young bucks for a couple days and they see a pretty nice framed middle aged buck, he looks like a monster.

I tell everyone "If you have to look at him twice, and second-guess his age, you should probably let him walk"

It's never an exact science. All deer are different, there is no one certain thing to look at to throw an age on them. Deer in one part of the state will be completely different than deer in another part of the state. I think it takes watching the deer on the property you are hunting a LOT to really get it figured out. Then there are still "borderline" bucks as I call them.
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If ducks had horns I'd probably be a duck hunter.
I am a horrible deer hunter. Probably the worst. Ever.

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#6159316 - 01/28/16 10:47 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
fouzman Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/09/10
Posts: 1006
Loc: Houston, TX
Aging deer from photos is always a challenge. So many variables. Camera angles, the way a deer is standing, time of year, no other deer in photo to compare to, poor lighting, poor focus and on and on.

I too have been doing this a long time and feel very confident in my ability to field-age a whitetail buck within one year. If I'm not sure, I always call them a year younger than I really think they are so as to always favor the ranch.

I've been blessed to hunt many good ranches with well balanced age structure. The ability to see many different bucks of various ages throughout a season, how they look, how they act toward one another, etc. is key to a fast track education in field aging a deer. And I've gotten to sit with some of the best in the business with much more experience than I'll ever have. Take that opportunity every chance you get it.

In short, from a photo it's tough. On the hoof, it's an educated guess. One other thing. I hunted for years with a south Texas rancher who knows as much about deer management as anyone. He told me years ago to classify bucks in three ways. Immature (1-2), Middle-aged (3-4) and mature (5+). I still try to estimate actual age, but his suggestion is an excellent way to classify your deer quickly.

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#6159320 - 01/28/16 10:51 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
redchevy Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23381
Loc: Texas
By far not a pro, but hunting/game amanagement interests me heavily so I put everything I got into it.

I focus more on age groups than specific ages. Young, middle aged, mature, ancient. Ive read research that indicated that while the majority of the time age guess were not correct, but they were in the right ball park. There are also many guesses from people who have no idea what they are looking at. And like JHeflinland said, guessing from one picture can be a waste.
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#6159334 - 01/28/16 11:05 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: DQ Kid]
Tff caribou Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 08/27/12
Posts: 2996
Loc: Watauga, TX
Originally Posted By: DQ Kid
No, I won't admit to that...He's 5+...Been doing this thing called deer hunting for nearly 40 years and regard myself pretty good at aging bucks. Takes time and practice - lots of it and helps to see lots of deer in field throughout the years..


Some of y'all are very good. No doubt about it. But most us are still very bad at it.
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The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference. -George Washington

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#6159337 - 01/28/16 11:09 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
Tff caribou Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 08/27/12
Posts: 2996
Loc: Watauga, TX
I'm much more comfortable saying a deer is young, or older than I am trying guess a specific year range. Low hanging out, sway back, fat flat nose, probably older. Skinny belly, defined features, probably younger.
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The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference. -George Washington

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#6159339 - 01/28/16 11:12 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
fouzman Online   content
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/09/10
Posts: 1006
Loc: Houston, TX
"sway back" and "pot belly" are two of the things that trip folks up most often, in my opinion. Be very careful when making a determination on age based on those two indicators. It depends on time of year but, more importantly how the deer is standing. If he isn't perfectly broadside with all four legs directly underneath him and in line, he may look pot-bellied or sway backed when, in fact, he's not. And every buck that is 2 1/2 or older looks pot-bellied in the early season, on a good ranch with good nutrition.

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#6159345 - 01/28/16 11:16 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
passthru Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 12/05/06
Posts: 10868
Loc: Saginaw, Tx
Also the definition of "mature" varies. A buck is an adult deer much sooner than his antler potential maximizes.
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#6159349 - 01/28/16 11:16 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
redchevy Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23381
Loc: Texas
Yep that is something that is tricky. Non protein fed deer in native habitats look differently than protein fed deer on properties with densities shot down below carrying capacity.
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#6159356 - 01/28/16 11:17 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: passthru]
redchevy Online   content
THF Celebrity

Registered: 10/25/04
Posts: 23381
Loc: Texas
Originally Posted By: passthru
Also the definition of "mature" varies. A buck is an adult deer much sooner than his antler potential maximizes.


That is also debatable, I have also read that its not uncommon for the best rainfall year from maturity on to be the best antler year.
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It's hell eatin em live

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#6159359 - 01/28/16 11:20 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
jshouse Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 01/24/10
Posts: 6228
Loc: Rockwall
Anyone want to take a run it him? I don't know for sure, I have 2 years of history on him, 2014 and 2015, and possibly more.



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#6159360 - 01/28/16 11:20 AM Re: Can we admit... [Re: Tff caribou]
BenBob Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 01/27/06
Posts: 5816
Loc: Undercover
If you are trying, I would say that your deer herd is better for your efforts. It is better to try to kill an older deer than to just kill any buck that comes along. It takes time and effort to be able to do it with any accuracy and then you can still be wrong. But it does make hunters look critically at deer and the main purpose of the entire effort is helped just by looking critically at deer and your herd as a whole.
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