We continue the blog posts with the topic of aging 4 ½ year old bucks. When we reach this age class, there is no doubt that the deer is a trophy. Whether that deer is 160 plus or is just a nice four by four, the age dictates the trophy in this case. If you can manage for and hunt deer of this age class you are definitely doing things the right way. Any deer at or above this age class is something to be proud of.
When a deer reaches this age class they begin to show some major bodily changes that make it easy to distinguish them from the lower age classes. The first and most obvious change is that the legs will now appear proportional to the body and they will lack that long and lanky appearance in their legs. The junction between the neck and shoulders also under goes an obvious change. This junction will fade away as this age class will have a very firm and muscular neck. As I mentioned earlier the legs are now proportional to the body, this is because the stomach and chest are now fully developed. The look of the head will not change much. The ears and nose will remain the same size and will not provide much of an indication on age for this age class. As far as antler growth is concerned, this age class will produce some of the best antler growth you will see in any age class. A 4 ½ year old buck’s antlers can be large and they will have reached about 80 to 90 percent of their potential. As it is with all age classes the rut can also give us some indications on age. Because the neck is fully developed and has lots of muscling, you will be able to see heavy swelling during the rut. This age class will also be the most active during the rut. If you look at the tarsal glands during the rut, this age class will have a much larger and darker staining then the younger age classes.
Overall, this age class will definitely produce hit list bucks for most every hunter. This age class has reached its full potential and can produce some very big deer. The main thing to remember when ageing this class of deer is the fact that this age class is very distinct from those on either side of it. It has a more mature look and its body finally “fits” its age better than the deer that are in the younger age class. Compared to the bucks in the older age classes, it has a more “healthy” look if you will and looks to be in its prime. So if you can see very distinct and obvious changes from the year before you can be fairly sure that it is a 4 ½ year old deer.
In the next blog post we will finish up the topic of aging deer and look at bucks that are 5 ½ years of age or older.