In this second blog post about aging deer we will take a look at the 2 ½ year old age class. If we compare the appearance of the 1 ½ year old age class to the 2 ½ year old age class you should be able to see a slight elongation in the appearance of the head. The antlers of a 2 ½ year old buck still won’t be very large, but given the proper habitat and nutrition this age class of deer can have an antler spread this is equal to or wider than their ears. At this point they have reached about 60 percent of their maximum antler size. The shoulder and neck region of this age class of buck will begin to have more developed muscling then what you would see in a 1 ½ year old deer, although it still remains smaller than older age classes. During the rut this age class will begin to show some swelling in the neck, but only slightly. A 2 ½ year old buck will now have a larger body size, but the legs will still appear too long for their body. They will also have a belly that is relatively firm. Combine that with a slightly thicker body and it gives this age class a sleek appearance. Just like with 1 ½ year old bucks, if it is during the rut you might be able to use the tarsal glands to determine the age of a buck. For this age class a moderate staining can be seen in the tarsal glands.
This age class, for most hunters, is probably one that they would still pass on and allow to grow older. But every management situation is different and we are all at different stages in out hunting careers. If a 2 ½ year old buck is a trophy in your area because of habitat limitations or hunting pressure or even if it is just a trophy in your own eyes, don’t feel bad about taking this age class of buck. Like I just stated every ones management situation is different and requires different goals. I will probably receive some negative comments from hunters because of those last few comments, but we have to remember the true reasons behind why we hunt and it is not always based on the age of the deer we shoot. However, it should be emphasized that for proper whitetail management and to improve the quality of the bucks on your property in the long term, it is suggested that hunters pass on 2 ½ year old bucks that may have potential to become good deer in the future.