This time of year means that many hunters are now putting out a good number of trail cameras and are also starting to get some of those pictures back to look at!!! With these pictures we can start to determine which deer are using our property this year and which ones we want to watch a little closer and maybe put on our hit list for this fall. For many, that means trying to age the bucks that they get pictures of to determine if they are in the right age class. In this and a series of blog posts to follow we will give you some basics on how to age bucks. In this post we will start with 1 ½ year old deer and then move to other age classes in the blog posts to follow.
The basic term to describe a 1 ½ year old buck is a doe with antlers. If we start up front we can see that their ears are semi-pointed and they will have a nose that is square in appearance. Most hunters will look at the antlers to determine the age class of a buck, although this works most of the time it may not always be a very reliable tool for judging the age of a 1 ½ year old buck. This is because a 1 ½ year old buck can have any number of points. Also, different habitats can produce different amounts of nutrition that can affect the growth of deer antlers. But no matter the number of points, this age class of buck will generally not have an antler spread that extends past their ears. At this age a buck will reach about 25 percent of their maximum antler growth. As we move farther back on a buck of this age class you should be able to see a defined line between the neck and shoulders and this area should also show very little muscle definition. If it is during the rut a 1 ½ year old buck’s neck will not appear swollen. Probably the easiest way to identify a 1 ½ year old buck is to look at the body type. A buck of this age will look like it has legs that are too long for its body. They will have a thin waist, taunt stomach, and a slim body. Because of the long legs and slim body it’s easiest for hunters to look for this lanky appearance to identify this age class. A final thing that is harder to see but can be used during the rut is to look at the tarsal glands. A 1 ½ year old buck will have only a small amount of staining in theses glands during the rut.
For obvious reasons this is probably the easiest age class to identify. The awkward body type and, for the most part, small antler size make this age class easy to determine. The main thing to look for is a lanky appearance and legs that seem to long for the body. Antler size can sometimes fool you, but with this age class it is hard to go wrong using antler size to determine the age and should give you a very accurate guess.
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