Field Judging Bucks


There are some basic body “shapes” that help identify a buck’s age, but you kind of have to “read between the body size.” In essence, you have to ignore the over-all body size and look for specific characteristics.

Just remember that body shape is going to change dramatically from the late summer and opening of bow season to November (rut). Even older bucks look more “meak” in late summer.

buck-1.5.1 buck-2.5.1
For yearling bucks, even in the Midwest where their body weight can be high, yearlings still have the look of a large doe with antlers. 2 1/2-year-old bucks are more muscular in chest, but not as much more in hams than a yearling, but they will have a large neck near the rut. In fact, in TN the easiest way to identify a yearling from a 2 1/2 is the neck. If it has a big thick neck, it is not a yearling.


buck-3.5.1 buck-4.5.1
3 1/2-year-old bucks look very much like thoroughbred race-horses. Very trim waist, but shoulders and hams are very muscular. 4 1/2-year-old bucks are really at the peak of their game. Muscular in hams and shoulders, but belly is starting to get big, with some sag. The neck of a 4 1/2 is so large it kind of blends straight into the chest with little definition between the two, as in no distinct line between the end of the neck and the beginning of the chest.


5 1/2+ year-old bucks have a lot of belly sag and the back starts to become swayed. Neck is huge with no definition between neck and chest.