Have I stated how much I love looking at my Covert Scouting Camera pictures in the summer time. It is a great time to check and see which bucks could be on the hit list once season opens up. I can’t put enough emphasis on this point, don’t base the age of the deer solely on the size of their rack. Especially a buck in velvet. A buck could be younger than you think when trying to age him based off a velvet rack versus hard horned rack. The rack can be somewhat of an indicator of age, but also consider the body size, your history with the buck and what it looks like in comparison to the other deer around it.
I’m going to illustrate my point with a buck that roamed my farm 4 or 5 years ago. It was a deer I called Ponder. The reason for his name, he lived by two ponds that was surround by two thickets. In 2010 he was a 2.5 year old 10 pointer that had great potential. He had a big body and a decent rack. The next the summer, 2011, he looked like a giant in velvet. I am not sure if it’s because he was close to the camera or the angle, but he looked big. (See the picture at the top right of this blog.)
If I hadn’t had history with this deer, I probably would have estimated him to be four years old. Once he lost his velvet he dropped several inches and it was easier to surmise that he was 3 rather than 4. The rack was lacking the mass that an older buck typically exudes. I let him walk during bow season two different times hoping he would make it to 4.5 years of age. From my understanding, Ponder was harvested by a neighbor in the fall of 2011 and was a trophy for somebody. Again, I learned several lessons from this deer and am happy to share one of them, how a velvet rack can be deceiving in regards to age.
This year we have all been going thru our trail camera pictures and are trying to guess the age of bucks running our farms. On bucks we don’t have much history with, it has been tough. One other thing I like to do to help determine a buck’s age is compare him to the bucks around him. This time of year, bucks are in bachelor groups. If you get a picture of one buck, you will probably get several bucks on camera. If you think a deer is older, look at his body in comparison to the other bucks. Is it larger? Does he have a sway in his back? Does his legs look short? Is his neck real skinny or noise real long? Answering these questions could help in determining the age of a buck as well.
If you are having trouble judging the age of a buck on camera this year, take this information into consideration. Maybe it will help you narrow down the age of the buck on you farm and tell you which list he will be on this fall.