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#6958228 - 11/13/17 10:17 AM Aging deer in the field?
QuitShootinYoungBucks Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 11/01/12
Posts: 8024
Loc: Lubbock, TX
I got a chance to watch quite a few bucks the past two weekends. For the life of me I am having a really hard time aging them. With heads level or down, their guts tend to draw up, which makes examining the body line hard. I had two or three with really big necks/heads that I would swear should be 3 but I'm wondering if they are older and I'm just not doing very well at aging them. I've only shot three deer that I know are 5.5 or older, but now I'm wondering if they were older than I thought and now I'm looking at 4.5/5.5s and under-aging them.

Anybody else having trouble?
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#6958238 - 11/13/17 10:22 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
crozierk Online   content
Light Foot

Registered: 05/23/16
Posts: 31
This is one of my concerns as well. Being new to the game here, I am worried about shooting something that doesn't make AR's, or I'll take a "nice deer for my area" and it will end up being a younger deer I probably should have passed on. Interested to hear more tips.


Edited by crozierk (11/13/17 10:23 AM)

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#6958256 - 11/13/17 10:28 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
fouzman Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 08/09/10
Posts: 1584
Loc: Houston, TX
Try classifying them as immature(1-2), middle-aged (3-4) and mature (5+). If you're uncertain between a 4 and 5 year old, then you should favor the ranch and hold off, if you're only targeting mature bucks. Tons of good books and videos on the subject out there, too.

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#6958312 - 11/13/17 10:55 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
ErnestTBass Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 08/12/16
Posts: 286
Those big 3-4 year old deer can be very tough to distinguish from a mature buck. I think everyone struggles with that.

Here's my rule: if you're going to hang it on your wall, shoot it. If not, shoot a doe or an obvious cull. Now, following that rule, you may shoot a couple 3-4 year old (middle aged) deer early in your career, but you will be happy with them. And pretty soon it won't happen anymore be many because those deer won't be big enough to meet that rule.

I am a big proponent of letting deer get old, but I also don't think people should beat themselves up for shooting a middle aged deer that is the best deer they've ever seen (especially kids and new hunters). Your trophy is a trophy, and you should enjoy it.

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#6958341 - 11/13/17 11:11 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: ErnestTBass]
QuitShootinYoungBucks Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 11/01/12
Posts: 8024
Loc: Lubbock, TX
Originally Posted By: ErnestTBass
Those big 3-4 year old deer can be very tough to distinguish from a mature buck. I think everyone struggles with that.

Here's my rule: if you're going to hang it on your wall, shoot it. If not, shoot a doe or an obvious cull. Now, following that rule, you may shoot a couple 3-4 year old (middle aged) deer early in your career, but you will be happy with them. And pretty soon it won't happen anymore be many because those deer won't be big enough to meet that rule.

I am a big proponent of letting deer get old, but I also don't think people should beat themselves up for shooting a middle aged deer that is the best deer they've ever seen (especially kids and new hunters). Your trophy is a trophy, and you should enjoy it.


This is exactly how I feel. Now, I would not knowingly shoot a 3.5 yr old, even if he was going to be my best. I have enough guts to hold off. If I don't shoot him he may keep breeding. But watching these deer, I was wondering if I'm looking at a cull or two. I'm in no hurry to pull the trigger-none of the one's I've see are notably mature or would be a personal best. I shot a mature/post mature buck two years ago on the last weekend of buck season. At least 5.5, lots of hide/chest/neck, potty stomach, just an old warrior. Maybe scored 100, but I'm as proud of him as any of my bigger bucks, because I'm looking for mature bucks, regardless of antler.
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#6958459 - 11/13/17 12:23 PM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: ErnestTBass]
Sirrah243 Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 11/05/09
Posts: 1938
Loc: Llano County TX
Originally Posted By: ErnestTBass
Those big 3-4 year old deer can be very tough to distinguish from a mature buck. I think everyone struggles with that.

Here's my rule: if you're going to hang it on your wall, shoot it. If not, shoot a doe or an obvious cull. Now, following that rule, you may shoot a couple 3-4 year old (middle aged) deer early in your career, but you will be happy with them. And pretty soon it won't happen anymore be many because those deer won't be big enough to meet that rule.

I am a big proponent of letting deer get old, but I also don't think people should beat themselves up for shooting a middle aged deer that is the best deer they've ever seen (especially kids and new hunters). Your trophy is a trophy, and you should enjoy it.
Words of wisdom right here. Thanks for posting. flehan
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“A hunt based only on the trophies taken falls far short of what the ultimate goal should be.” -Fred Bear

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#6958824 - 11/13/17 04:52 PM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
TxMeatHunter Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 11/13/17
Posts: 15
Loc: Austin, Texas
it's tough aging bucks




Edited by TxMeatHunter (11/13/17 04:52 PM)

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#6958854 - 11/13/17 05:14 PM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
Pitchfork Predator Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 01/25/13
Posts: 12870
Loc: Murphy, TX Dickens county
It can be really tough when they are moving around. I look more for body language and the way other deer react to them. They usually approach a different path or direction than most the other younger bucks. They move slower and more methodical. Other bucks less than 5 tend to clear out of town more times than not when they know they are coming.

The more triangular shaped their head is on the side profile, usually more mature. When I say that, a triangle with equal lengths to the 3 sides, instead of long snout and short jaw line to eye height. Usually but not always, more beading to their bases and main beams. Usually but not always character points as well instead of being slick. They are usually more flat footed as well. If you have good glass sometimes you can see the amount of hair worn off their front leg joints and lighter colored leg hair the older they get.
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#6958885 - 11/13/17 05:23 PM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: Pitchfork Predator]
QuitShootinYoungBucks Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 11/01/12
Posts: 8024
Loc: Lubbock, TX
Originally Posted By: Pitchfork Predator
It can be really tough when they are moving around. I look more for body language and the way other deer react to them. They usually approach a different path or direction than most the other younger bucks. They move slower and more methodical. Other bucks less than 5 tend to clear out of town more times than not when they know they are coming.

The more triangular shaped their head is on the side profile, usually more mature. When I say that, a triangle with equal lengths to the 3 sides, instead of long snout and short jaw line to eye height. Usually but not always, more beading to their bases and main beams. Usually but not always character points as well instead of being slick. They are usually more flat footed as well. If you have good glass sometimes you can see the amount of hair worn off their front leg joints and lighter colored leg hair the older they get.


Of the bucks I saw and had time to really watch, neither had what I would say were really worn knees. I suspect both of the bigger ones were 4.5. They did have large heads but fairly flat belly lines and backs.

I'm going to keep working on the doe population, and if something magical shows up, I'll feel blessed. Otherwise I probably won't cull anything until later in the year, if at all. It's been a great two weekends already, though.
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#6959353 - 11/13/17 10:18 PM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
Wacm Offline
Tracker

Registered: 05/13/16
Posts: 821
Loc: Wimberley, Tx
Body is square till 2.5 yo
Then it's rectangle but the belly line is concave
Face is sleek..nose is skinny
At 3.5 belly is straight across not concave. Legs still look skinny so does the face. Body looks sleek
4.5 belly starts to sag a bit. Front end fills out but hind quarters look slim still. Big fat nose starts this year. Face starts to look shorter. Whole deer looks fuller but not much.
5 years the hind end starts to match the front. Belly sags..everything looks full.
6.. face is short and fat. Big thick nose. Body is full makes the legs look short. Wrinkles in the face and in the shoulders. Honestly when you see a six year old you know he's mature right away he looks huge
7 back sag belly sag wrinkles big wide full body...legs look short and body is super wide like a donkey.
Past seven can get tough..they look like they are melting saggy. They eat corn funny. You'll notice they sometimes throw their head up when feeding or move their jaws around a lot..it's cause their teeth are short.
My .02 off my head

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#6959509 - 11/14/17 06:42 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
REALKILLER Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 02/19/15
Posts: 1274
They are cutting weight right now. Been worked up about does since the end of October. I believe that some bucks rutt harder than some. I saw 2 four year olds yesterday and they have both leaned up from rutting. They still have upper body mass, but I can tell they have lost the gut. It makes them look like race horses. 2 days ago they all fed together and yesterday they barely fed and were doggin does and went roaming. I could hear one of them grunting at a doe while walking by her. They are pumped up and probably are like a big truck driver right now. Ridin on that high and not eating right.
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Been seein alot of everything. It's time to hunt!

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#6959513 - 11/14/17 06:49 AM Re: Aging deer in the field? [Re: QuitShootinYoungBucks]
REALKILLER Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 02/19/15
Posts: 1274
Got that female on the brain. Poison for all of us. If a buck is real old he cant hide it. Kinda like an old saggy 65 year old body builder. Kinda got a swagg about them. Body is worn out.
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