Head Hunting │ What to Look for in a Buck
Antlers vs. Age │ Selecting the Right Buck to Kill
When it comes to deer hunting and herd management, there are multiple philosophies that exist that would result in having and holding larger, more mature deer. Regardless of your preference, having and holding larger whitetail bucks is every deer hunter’s goal. This article will take a look at the two factors that will influence a deer hunter to pull the trigger, age and antler size.
If you ask any deer hunter what they hope to encounter each season, they would probably tell you “a big buck”. It would be less likely that you hear them say “a mature deer” or “an old deer”. The point is that most hunters look for big antlers. While a 170” whitetail typically fill the dreams of every deer hunter at some point or another, allowing a buck to reach that size takes dedication and hard work with the implementation of deer management techniques that will require some self-discipline.
When it comes to deer hunting, looking at the size of a whitetails rack is something that even the most seasoned hunter can get caught up in at one point or another. Of course, harvesting a 120 to 130” whitetail can be a trophy to most deer hunters, the old saying “you’ll never shoot a big one if you keep shooting the small ones” holds true. Growing big mature whitetail deer really comes down to habitat, genetics, and competition which is more than can be covered in this article. However, there are few things that a deer hunter can do to help better balance the herd and to produce large whitetails.
Managing and harvesting deer based upon age, rather than by looking at the size of the rack, can yield better long term success. Allowing a 3.5 year old buck to reach 4.5 or even 5.5 years of life can make a big difference in the quality of your herd. Pulling the trigger whole deer hunting on a young buck that has yet to reach its full potential can be very tempting when the going gets tough. But, by selecting an older deer to harvest you allow every buck to reach its maximum. A buck tends to peak in antler growth around 5.5-6.5 years of age, and begin decreasing in antler growth after 6.5. This means that the rack of an older, more mature whitetail buck may not be as spectacular that as of a 5.5 year old deer, however, when given the choice between harvesting a 140” 3.5 year old or 130” 6.5 year old, the latter is always the better decision.
Successful deer hunters are those that put in the time to prepare, scout, and utilize the best equipment available to them. Take the time to sort through your Wildgame Innovations Trail Camera pictures and find the most mature buck to target. Plant your Evolved Harvest food plots based on his movements. Scout your food plots often, check your cameras, and when it comes time to hunt be sure to pass on every young buck. Waiting for the most mature buck ensures younger bucks are moving up in age classes. If you practice these tactics while deer hunting, along with a little patients, you might just be pleased with the results.