Being able to tell a deer’s age is a valuable skill for any outdoor enthusiast. While many hunters prefer to grade bucks based on antler size and point, shooting older deer while sparing the younger is a common practice for protecting a population.
Age matters for rack size as well. If the goal of your hunting is bigger racks, then strong nutrition and available food won’t do any good without the age to support it.
It’s not a perfect science, but with practice and research, you can estimate a buck’s age with fairly consistent accuracy.
At a year and a half, a buck will have smooth, small antlers with few sticker points, if any at all. The face will look short and doe-like, with a tapered muzzle that should be easy to spot. When looking at the body, the rump will be higher than the shoulders, with thin legs and a slim torso. One of the best practices when aging a buck is to picture the animal without antlers; at a year and a half, it would basically look like a doe.
The next year, a buck will have a wider antler base, reaching about three to four inches in circumference. During the rut, the buck’s neck will begin to swell visibly, and it will essentially start to look like a yearling that has hit the weight room all summer. Perhaps the biggest change will be in the shoulders and rump, which will now have similar heights. It will keep its doe-like face, but it will have a noticeably larger body.
If the buck makes it to year three, it will now have a heavy, rough antler base and much larger neck and shoulders. The back is still a straight line but the belly will start to look larger. The buck should now have a fuller rack that is hard for hunters to pass up. It’s easy to differentiate a one or two-year-old compared from a three-year-old, but determining age from here on out becomes more challenging.
When the buck reaches four and a half, it’s now wise, savvy, and strong. The neck and chest will look like they seamlessly flow together and the legs will take on a short, stocky appearance. They are now reaching full antler growth and will have thick haunches that make them look more powerful and heavy.
If you spot a buck over 5 years, consider yourself lucky. They can be hard to tell from a four-year-old, but they should have even thicker, bulkier chests and will sport glorious antlers that you won’t be able to forget. They will have a sagging gut and drooping back line.
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NOMAD Outdoor is pleased to announce a partnership with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF). Now, you can get the same high-quality, premium outdoor wear you’ve come to love and expect from NOMAD, but with a special turkey twist. These items will feature the NWTF logo and be available in both the new NWTF Mossy Oak Obsession camouflage pattern as well as the Bottomland pattern. The best part? A portion of each NWTF collection sale will go to the organization to support their work.
At NOMAD, we love the excitement and challenge of turkey hunting. It’s one of the most difficult yet rewarding forms of hunting, and like many American outdoor enthusiasts, we are always waiting for spring and fall turkey hunts. However, we all need to be reminded that turkey hunting, however enjoyable, can be a very dangerous sport. When done recklessly, turkey hunts can cause injury and even death.
You may have taken a hunter’s safety course, but it’s always wise to review proper turkey hunting safety so you and your fellow hunters can stay safe in the woods and the fields.
Every single state in the nation, with the exception of Alaska, has wild turkey hunting, making the sport easily-accessible to a vast majority of American hunters.
Some states, however, are better than others. According to Realtree, there are nine states that earn an “A” for turkey hunting. These states are located all over the country, so no matter where you live, you’re within a day’s drive of some world-class turkey hunting. So what are the best states for turkey hunters? Let’s find out...