In last night’s “Question of the Night” on the Wired To Hunt Facebook Page I asked … “Do you feel that you can accurately age a buck “on the hoof ” ?
The answers we got back ranged from a tentative yes or clear no, to more tepid answers – such as “fairly close for my local area” or ” I can identify the difference between a shooter or not”. Or my favorite, “its super easy here in michigan, 90% chance they’re 1-1/2”. (haha, shake my head)
That all being said and given other feedback I’ve received – it still seems like a large percentage of folks out there are still completely unaware that they can age bucks on the hoof or feel somewhat skeptical about the accuracy of this aging method.
If you’re looking to try and practice some form of deer management or are just looking for a new challenge, targeting mature bucks should be a goal. And in order to do that, you must be able to determine whether or not a buck is in fact mature before killing it! Spoiler Alert – this is accomplished by aging a buck “on the hoof”.
So with that in mind – I wanted to offer up three quick ways that you can improve your ability to accurately age a buck just from viewing physical characteristics of the deer.
Read on for my 3 steps to more accurately aging bucks on the hoof!
1. Watch “Bear Archery Webisode 11: Aging Bucks on the Hoof”: This video, embedded below, features Kip Adams of the Quality Deer Management Association doing a great job of explaining some of the keys to aging bucks on the hoof. This is the most visual, and easy to understand representation I’ve seen yet of this practice. If you read no further, at least give this a watch and you’re guaranteed to learn something.
2. Buy The “Selective Buck Harvest Poster”: This poster – pictured at the top of this post – details visually and in words the physical characteristics of each different buck age class. It’s an incredibly useful poster that would make for a great addition to any hunting camp, and actually adorns the wall of my office as well! Pick up a copy of this poster, study it before heading out in the field hunting – and you’ll be applying your new found knowledge before you know it. Link to the Selective Buck Harvest Poster
3. Read The Following Expert Articles: Rather than me rattling on about how to age bucks, I’d recommend you head straight to the real experts. The following articles from Dr. David Samuel, Bob Zaiglin and Kip Adams feature some of the most in depth and helpful explanations for properly aging bucks on the hoof. Take 10 minutes and give these pieces a good read.
Do you have any other good resources or tips for aging bucks on the hoof? Please let us know in the comments!