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Question by ZachJ. Uploaded on October 18, 2010
Well, I know that roughly, a spike to a 4 point can be considered a yearling, a 5 or 6 point is considered two years, an 8 point is three or four, and anything bigger is getting pretty mature. The old fellas, 6-8 years, have sagging bellies, gray coloration, and have heavy thick and well branched antlers.
Depends. Just about all the 8 pointers here are only 2 1/2 years old. Judging by the rack is usually completely unreliable, especially since it doesn't usually get as big when the buck is really old.
I look for a big heavy deer with a big neck. That means they are at least "mature". Older deer just look older, and carry themselves differently. Hard to describe. A "Roman nose" is an indicator you can look for, but doesn't necessarily mean anything.
All in all, don't really worry about aging deer. Young deer tend to be better eating, and if a buck suits your fancy when it's walking by or when you walk up on it, it's a shooter.
Like the others have mentioned, look at the way they carry themselves. They have gone through many battles with other bucks. Also the face is a good indicator, kind of like a dog. The grayer the face and heavier white around the eye, typically the older the buck.
You can look at their necks, or when you already have the deer down look at their teeth, if they have two permanent teeth, they are a year old, and if they have four permanent teeth they are 2 years old.
The only way to age a deer is by the teeth. The stage of maturity is a matter of opinion, but I would not consider a yearling buck (one and one half years of age) to be mature. The vast majority of bucks taken by hunters each fall are yearlings.
According to one source, the Pennsylvania Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries, a whitetail buck is considered physiologically mature at 4 1/2 years of age, when it has attained 90% of its antler growth potential.
Fully mature bucks are those in the 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 year age group, with fully developed antlers.
Using the teeth to "age" a deer is so-so!
At specific points of time, as a deer ages, some teeth are lost and others take their place, just as you did growing up. The placement/position of these teeth will give "some idea" of a deer's age.
The other consideration is "wear patterns" and "tooth length".
Where I hunt, the soil is very sandy. This throws the "wear pattern" AND "tooth length" aspect WAY out of whack, and leaves tooth position the only "true" indication of deer age.....and it's is not very accurate.
Ageing is, as far as I'm concerned, way overrated!
The older a deer gets, the more pot-bellied it appears. Bucks grow their ultimate rack, biologically, at 7 1/2 years of age and declines from there.
The older a deer gets, the more "roman nosed" they appear.
But even those are "iffy" at best.
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