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#594403 - 02/01/08 01:33 PM Field-judging buck age examples
BSK
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First, let me emphasize that field-judging age is an art and not a science. Although I've been perfecting my skills for many years, I still only get 4 out of 5 buck ages right. Let me also emphasize that deer from different geographic regions will have different body conformation characteristics by age. All of the following pictures (except one) are TN bucks.

Second, when field-judging buck age, always, always, ALWAYS ignore the antlers. I've seen 80-class yearlings and 80-class 5 1/2 year-old bucks. Antlers will fool you more often than any other feature. Just look at the body.


Yearling (1 1/2 year-old) bucks:

Yearling bucks are best described as "does with antlers." They have the gracile necks of does, and the long bodies of does. Some yearling bucks will have body musculature greater than does, but the almost always have legs that look very long for the thickness of the body.

In fact, at least for me, the two most important and consistent body characteristics to look at are the length of the legs in comparison to the vertical thickness of the body, and the juncture of the neck with the front of the shoulders. Those two characteristics seem to be the best for judging TN bucks.

Notice in the following pictures how narrow the bucks' necks are, even where they join the shoulder. A very clear distinction between the base of the neck and the beginning of the shoulders exists. Also notice how long these bucks' legs look in comparison to the vertical height/thickness of the shoulder and body trunk. Viewed from the front, yearling buck are also very doe-like in how narrow their bodies are from side to side.









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#594413 - 02/01/08 01:39 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
BSK
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2 1/2 year-old bucks:

By 2 1/2, bucks are really starting to put on considerable muscle. They are usually noticeably larger in body than yearling bucks. The best way to differentiate a 2 1/2 year-old buck from a yearling buck is the thickness of the neck. 2 1/2 year-old bucks have noticeably enlarged necks near the rut. Their bodies will often look substantially larger than a yearling.

However, as much larger as their necks are, a fairly strong distinction still exists between the base of the neck and the beginning of the shoulders.

Their legs are starting to look less "long and gracile" compared to a yearling buck.








_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#594432 - 02/01/08 01:47 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
BSK
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3 1/2 year-old bucks:

Bucks begin to look "big" once they hit 3 1/2. At 3 1/2, they have very heavy necks, especially down at the base where the neck joins the shoulders. Only a slight distinction between neck and shoulder will exist.

A 3 1/2 year-old buck really looks like a Thoroughbred race horse. They are very muscular in shoulders and hams. They look like they are at the peak of their game. Viewed from the front, their bodies are starting to look thick from side to side.

3 1/2 year-old bucks are just starting to take on the "front-heavy" (deeper chest than hams) look common to mature bucks.







_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#594444 - 02/01/08 01:54 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
BSK
Jerkasourous of the non-typical kind
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4 1/2 year-old bucks:

At 4 1/2, bucks are considered mature, not only because their behavior is that of a mature buck but because their bodies are fully filled out.

At 4 1/2, bucks will have massive necks. Almost no definition will exist between the base of the neck and the beginning of the shoulders. The huge neck will appear to nearly flow seamlessly into the shoulders.

4 1/2 year-old bucks also begin to take on a strong "buffalo" look, where their front end appears to be much heavier than their back-end--almost as if they will tip forwards.

At 4 1/2, bucks' body-trunks will be just as wide from side to side as as they are tall vertically. They are truly brutish, muscular, thick studs.

At 4 1/2, bucks have legs that look noticeably short in comparison to the vertical height of the body. In essence, the front legs look about as long as the shoulder section of the body trunk is vertically thick.








_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#594468 - 02/01/08 02:04 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
BSK
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5 1/2 year-old bucks:

5 1/2 year-old and older bucks are the true bulls of the forest. Their distinguishing characteristics are their massive over-all size. Their necks have become so thick that they flow directly into the top of the shoulders and deep brisket of the chest with no definition.

By 5 1/2, the musculature of bucks' hams have often caught up to their shoulders, and they no longer have the "front heavy" look of 4 1/2 year-old bucks.

Bucks of this age will look and act like no other deer. They will even walk differently than younger bucks, with a more horse-like plodding gait. At times they will even swing their front legs foreword in a sideways arcing motion.






_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#594480 - 02/01/08 02:09 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
BSK
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6 1/2 and older bucks:

Bucks 6 1/2 or older are characterized by hugely large bodies that are beginning to look "saggy" especially around the belly. If the belly is vertically thicker than the shoulders and hams, the buck is 6 1/2+. These bucks are rarely seen in the wild (even if they exist--they are very secretive).

[Note: the 2nd pictured buck in velvet is from the Low Country of South Carolina. I use that SC buck in velvet (when necks are not as filled out as they will be come the rut) primarily to show just how fat the bellies on 6 1/2+ year-old bucks really are]



_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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#594867 - 02/01/08 06:44 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: BSK]
canyonman
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Registered: 11/08/04
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Great info Bryan
Here is the hunting situation;your in your stand hunting thick cover 50 yards is the longest shot you can take,it's 8:30am and a good buck appears.The deer is feeding slowly but you only have very little time to age the deer and take the shot.Can you give us your mental check list as you age this deer.
thanks

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#595249 - 02/01/08 10:27 PM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: canyonman]
big 8's in Weakley county
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THanks alot BSK
Very helpful
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#595402 - 02/02/08 07:42 AM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: big 8's in Weakley county]
HOOK
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Registered: 05/01/99
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Great post man!
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#595476 - 02/02/08 09:44 AM Re: Field-judging buck age examples [Re: canyonman]
BSK
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 Originally Posted By: canyonman
Great info Bryan
Here is the hunting situation;your in your stand hunting thick cover 50 yards is the longest shot you can take,it's 8:30am and a good buck appears.The deer is feeding slowly but you only have very little time to age the deer and take the shot.Can you give us your mental check list as you age this deer.
thanks


One word: "neck"

Look at the juncture between neck and shoulder.

If you have time: "How long does his front legs look in comparison the the vertical thickness of his shoulder?"
_________________________
"Know where you stand, and stand there" --Jesuit Father Daniel Berrigan

"There is no reasoning someone out of a position he has not reasoned himself into." --Clive James

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