bucks

Taking a Second Look to Age a Buck

Grant Woods |

This time of year I receive numerous posts on my Facebook page requesting help with estimating the age of bucks. I receive so many questions on this subject that I’d like to share some tips I use to estimate a buck’s age.

bucksI think the tips should be simple as we rarely have more than a few seconds to make a shoot or pass decision when deer hunting.

Here are some guidelines that I’ve successfully used and refined through the years.

  • Ignore the antlers! Body shape is a much better indicator of age than antlers.
  • If you have to convince yourself the buck is old enough, he probably isn’t.
  • If the situation permits, always wait for the buck to change position.
  • If the chest is obviously buffalo shaped – so much so that if you placed a 2” x 4” under the buck’s chest and tight against the back of his front legs as a balance beam and the buck would tip forward – shoot! That buck is 4 years old or older.
  • When possible, I rely heavily on the 2” x 4” technique for deciding to shoot or pass when the property owner request only harvesting bucks that are four years old or older. When I use this system and don’t cheat, I’ve yet to worry about ground shrinkage or have to apologize for the landowner for not complying by his request.

These three pics are of the same buck only seconds apart. Notice he appears older in the head-on position. His body and his antlers appear much smaller in the broadside view. He’s a great buck, but certainly not mature. If a 2” x 4” were placed tight behind his front legs, he would tip toward his rear.

I hope these simple tips help you avoid the ugly feeling that occurs when bucks “shrink” after they hit the ground.

Growing and hunting deer together,

Dr. Grant Woods, GrowingDeer.tv