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How to Age Bucks Before You Pull The Trigger

Though he still carries good mass, a thin neck on a square, blocky body, bony shoulders, pot belly and sway back indicate an older buck. (Photo courtesy of NorthAmericanWhitetail.com)
Though he still carries good mass, a thin neck on a square, blocky body, bony shoulders, pot belly and sway back indicate an older buck. (Photo courtesy of NorthAmericanWhitetail.com)

It all happened so quickly. One minute I was enjoying an absolutely lovely early autumn afternoon, not expecting much action for at least an hour. The next, a big-racked buck was bearing down on the doe feeding in front of me. She bolted, but he paused momentarily in the spot where she’d been standing, stuck his nose into the short grass then lifted his head and curled his lips back.

I was already at full draw when he did, but I hesitated momentarily as my mind replayed the outfitter’s pre-hunt speech. “We have a 140-inch minimum, outside the ears and we want you to shoot a mature deer, four-and-a-half or older.”

I felt pretty confident this buck would meet the first two, but I wasn’t certain about the age.

Fortunately, the buck gave me enough time to confirm he would indeed meet all three criteria. But how often does that happen? And in the moment of truth, would you be able to make that distinction? Having more time to look over a deer or being able to look at trail cam pictures in advance helps, but you still may have to make a split-second decision. Either way, it helps if you know what to look for.

READ THE FULL STORY ON NORTH AMERICAN WHITETAIL

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STARTING OCT 15
STARTING OCT 15