As a member of the Quality Deer Management Association I receive the Quality Whitetails magazine six times a year and boy is it an exciting day for me when the most recent issues hits my mailbox. It truly is one of the best hunting/deer related magazines in publication, if not the best. Across all of the great content provided within it’s pages, one of my favorite sections is titled “Age This”. In each issue the “Age This” section features pictures of several different bucks from around the country and a set of details regarding nutrition available, location of the deer, management practices, etc. Then from that picture and information, a handful of experienced hunters/managers/biologists estimate the age of the deer and share their reasons for this decision. For anyone interested in learning how to better age deer on the hoof, this is a terrific exercise to go through and I’ve found it both fun to read and very educational. I personally like to take a stab at aging the buck myself and then compare my thoughts and estimations to those of the experts. That being said, I’m excited to share with the Wired To Hunt Nation a sample straight from the “Age This” archives! I’ve got to send a big thank you to the QDMA for sharing this with us. That being said, take a good look at the buck above, see the details about him listed below and then check out the expert estimations from the panel. It should be a great way to test your “aging chops”! Once you do that, let us know what your guess was in the comments!
Age This – Kentucky
Owner: Tom Roby, Philpot, Kentucky
Location: Hancock Co. (on the Ohio River in western KY)
Date: September 18 (rut peaks in mid-November)
Notes: 170 acres, under QDM for eight years; 13 acres in warm- and cool-season food plots; 10 acres in warm-season grasses. Corn, soybeans and alfalfa grown on surrounding farms. High hunting pressure in the area, but most neighbors protect young bucks. Herd was hit hard by HD in recent years.
Kip Adams • 2½ • “This young buck hails from some of the best habitat in the country. He has a thin neck, long legs and overall lanky appearance. He has little muscling in his shoulders, a sleek torso, and a tight waist. Most of his body characteristics suggest he’s only 1½ years old. However, this is a good example of when to consider antler size, as yearlings can grow eight or more points but they rarely grow numerous points in combination with long tines and/or main beams. This buck can really be something special, so unless he crosses paths with a youth hunter, he’s a great one to let walk.”
Erich Long • 2½ • “What a great picture of a 2½-year-old. His front and rear end are about the same height and same size (a yearling’s rear end tends to be higher). His stomach and waist are tight, and his neck is thin and appears to be Photoshopped onto his body, since it doesn’t join the shoulder or chest. This deer should be a giant given a few more years and the continued support of the neighborhood!”
Joe Hamilton • 2½ • “Sometimes being familiar with the quality of deer in a specific area puts me at odds with the other panelists when aging a buck. I do have experience with deer from along the Ohio River in western Kentucky and have learned that the occurrence of Pope & Young bucks is as high as one per 150 acres. In this area bucks exhibit great potential for antler and body development at a very early age. Although this buck has two months of development before the peak of the rut, he is long-legged, slim necked, and sleek from stem to stern, so I would be inclined to put him in the 2½-year-old age class.”
Dave Edwards • 2½ • “This deer lives in the big buck country of western Kentucky. Abundant agriculture and fertile soils in this area have produced some giant whitetails, so it is not surprising to see a very respectable rack on this young buck. He demonstrates what I consider textbook characteristics for a 2½-year-old. His body is more developed than a yearling, but still has a somewhat lanky appearance. To me, the body of a 2½-year-old buck takes on a rectangular shape, similar to a 4½ but less developed, whereas a yearling’s chest is very thin compared to the rump, and a 3½-year-old buck’s chest is deeper than his stomach. This buck also has a relatively thin neck, but I suspect it will fill in some as the rut approaches. Great young buck with lots of potential!”
Jason Snavely • 2½ • “Note this buck’s clearly underdeveloped shoulders and hindquarters and an awful lot of space between hooves and chest line. Given the quality soils under him, this buck will be an incredible animal if given a few more years! He has a lot of characteristics of a yearling, so if your harvest guidelines are based on age, definitely enjoy the observation but don’t shoot! I ultimately decided 2½, and not yearling, because of his main beam and tine length. You should also note the smaller diameter of his bases, a characteristic of an immature buck. Don’t get caught up trying to decide 1½ or 2½… either way, he’s an awesome buck to have in the pipeline!”
BuckScore • 2½ • (100 percent confidence)
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