Something a lot of hunters will be faced with this summer is aging bucks when looking at trail camera pictures.  On this podcast, we will tackle this subject and discuss attributes to look at on a buck that can help you determine his age.  We hope this helps and enjoy!

Below are my show notes for this topics.  Toward the end are the attributes I look for and what defines a mature buck.  In my opinion a mature buck if 4 years old or older.

This week we are going to talk about a topic that a lot of people are being faced with this time of year when looking at trail camera pictures or out glassing bucks.  That topic is what age is the buck?

This time of year and throughout the fall you see people posting pictures of bucks on social media asking people to help age the buck.  Some people try to assist, others not so much.  So, let’s see if we can help listeners age bucks.

Why try to age a buck?  To find out which bucks have reached maturity.  If you are into hunting mature bucks, this lets you Know which ones to target and which ones need another year or two.  Things can happen quick in the rut or while on stand. It is good to know a bucks age ahead of time, if possible. If a buck you know walks by your stand, are you shooting or just going to enjoy the encounter.  You know as soon as you see the buck and don’t have to guess.

Why does someone want to hunt a mature buck?  Because he has reached his rack potential, harder to hunt, the challenge, gives young bucks a chance to reach potential, history, or because that is where you are in your hunting maturation.

What age buck is hardest to age? Three to four years old bucks, especially in the rut.  I’ve been fooled in the rut thinking a buck was 4, but when I got him on the ground, he was 3.

What is the easiest way to age a buck?  History – if you’ve watched a buck grow up, you know when he is two, three, four, five, etc.  To me, you can start following a buck when he turns two.  He will have similar rack characteristics each year that allows him to be identifiable.

The story of Holiday – Holiday was a tall racked 8 pointer at age two, tines skinny, body was slick, long legged, etc.  Then, at 3 he was thicker bodied, same style rack, but heavier and bigger.  Kept progressing until last year when he was 5.  Hoping he shows again this year, but no pics since November 14th of last year.

Eleven point was the same way… 11 pt basket rack at two, bigger at 3, bigger at 4 and 13 ptr at 5.  He was harvested a mile away from where I got pics of him.

Alright, so you don’t have history and a new buck shows up on camera, what are you looking for to tell you that he is mature?

  • The most difficult age to distinguish, in my opinion, is if a buck is a 3 year old or a 4 year old. Can usually tell if a deer is younger or older than 3 or 4.
  • I only look at the rack to see if it helps identify a buck or for heavy mass, other than that I don’t use the rack to age a buck.
  • I look at their legs, If the legs look long, usually a younger deer. If they look short, older.
  • Look at their body, are they toned, big belly, sway in the back, short nose, big chest.  This equal an older buck.
  • Look at their nose or snout, is the snout short or long. Long is typically younger, short is older
  • If you only have one pic can be hard to tell. Look at several pics.  Side view is usually easier to identify the age of a buck.
  • Get friends opinion. Have them give an honest opinion not one you want to hear.
  • Cover the rack and look at the body. Dr. Grant Woods shared this tip and I utilize it often.
  • Look at old pics, maybe even two years ago.  You can’t remember everything and one you thought passed could show up again.