Just wanted to mention for those that either field-judge the age of bucks in trail-cam pictures or those that do so while hunting: be careful of field-judging age this far post-rut. Bucks--especially active breeding bucks--can lose a tremedous amount of weight during the rut. Even penned bucks have been documented losing 30% of their body weight during the rut chasing does round and round inside the pen.|
The "rules" for field-judging buck age are based on buck body-shape just before and at peak rut. Since many of the older bucks have lost weight during the rut, they can look younger than they really are. Even big bulked up mature bucks can look very different from early November to late December and into January.
Here's a perfect example. Here's one of the mature bucks (5 1/2) I've been chasing and getting trail-cam pictures of. Here he is in early November, with all the classic massive chest and neck of a fully mature buck:
But here he is as of Dec. 30. He's lost a lot of weight, especially in his neck and chest. If this were the only picture I had of this buck I would say he is no older than 4 1/2:
"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