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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey folks,

I was wondering about some of your expertise on aging whitetails. How do you do it? I know Bowtech specifically is always posting bucks ages in his pictures, I assume that's from watching them over the years, but there's gotta be some way to intelligently guess at a Deer's age. Let's take a look at these three pictures and let me know what you think about ages (My guess in brackets, but I really have no idea
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Yearling 5 Point (Last Year's Fawn?):


8 Pointer (Light Rack - 2009 Fawn):


Doe (No sweet clue on aging them):


Thanks for the help!
 

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My guess would be that you are correct Wardo, on the first two bucks. Both yearlings 1 1/2 years old. Although the second buck "could" have been a year older even with the small rack. The body size is the key. A 2 1/2 year old buck tends to have a more noticeably heavier bone structure(like the leg bone size for instance). After 2 1/2 it becomes very difficult to tell a deers age accurately without using the dental "wear" method. So even a doe that is past the yearling stage is hard to tell by eye.
I would say that the doe on the right is mature, the one on the left a yearling.
 

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Oh so you say that even the 8 point is probably only a yearling? I actually had meant to type 2008 Fawn for that one thinking this was his second full rack. That's interesting, obviously knew he wasn't very mature based on body size, but didn't think that a yearling buck could have such a substantial first rack. Very cool, hopefully he'll make it through and we'll see him for years to come. It's not a terrible thing to make a middle of the night washroom run and see an 8 pointer out the window


For anyone with concerns, these deer are in no danger, and they seem to know it, it's not uncommon to have them laying on our lawn for hours.
 

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The best way to learn how to age on the hoof is to have a good reference guide and pictures and then do it. I have aging posters from QDMA for both bucks and does that have nice pictures and write-ups for each. Compare your age estimations with others and see how you do. Things start to become pretty obvious on some deer. Many "experts" are still only within a year so it isn't a science. Someone from down south may have a tendency to age our bucks a year older than they are or someone from the north may underage them. If you can get a number of picture of known age classes from your area you can get extremely accurate over time. After 3.5 it gets much more difficult and you really have to look at body characteristics and not antlers. Up till that point antlers can be used as well as body characteristics because antler diameter is correlated, and on "average" yearling spread will be well inside the ears, 2.5 yr olds will be just inside the tips or even and 3.5yr olds will be even with or outside. Mind you each may have variations outside of those parameters so body is still the most important and use the antlers as crossreference.

Here are a couple articles on it

http://www.ubnj.org/helpful/aging/onthehoof.html

http://www.qdma.com/what-we-do/articles/certification-program-readings/aging-bucks-on-the-hoof/

 

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yes Wardo, I would say the 8 point is a yearling also. Just based on his body size, and skinny leg bones. Like the buck I shot this year had a small 8 point rack, but was a 155 lbs dressed 2 1/2 year old. But the buck that was with him that morning (that I almost shot at first, before he showed up), was a yearling. Even though it had a small basket 6 point rack. It would have been an 8 also, but had no brow tines. By comparison it would have probably only dressed out at 120 lbs max.
Some people believe that if a buck has, lets say an 8 pint rack his first year. He will be a better trophy later on. But captive deer have disproved this theory. It all has to do with what month the fawn was born in, if he is an early Fawn (may/June) he is obviously going to have a better start than one born in July/August. So his body will be ahead of the smaller fawn by the following summer. This leaves more protein to go to his rack the second year, while the smaller buck is still catching up weight wise. Of course the quality of food has a lot to do with both body and rack size as well. Throw in genetics, and the stew becomes a little thicker. Look at what genetics and large grain fields have done for the Western provinces deer size!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys, very cool info! That's why I asked the questions
 
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