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Can You Guess The Age Of This Buck? By Grant Woods

It’s prime time for hunters to be in the woods! Most hunters realize that age is the primary determinant of a buck’s antler size. Most bucks produce their largest set of antlers when they are five to seven years old.

There are many variables including the buck’s health, quality of habitat each year, etc. Most hunters wish to hunt and harvest bucks with larger antlers. The best way to produce bucks with larger antlers is to allow immature bucks to mature. This requires being able to accurately estimate a buck’s age before pulling the trigger! So, let’s practice…

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This video was taken in South Dakota in an area that produces soybeans and corn. Hence I expect bucks there to have a large body size and larger antlers per each age class than bucks from areas with lower quality forage.

Notice that his chest and hams don’t appear fully developed and that his antler bases don’t have a much larger diameter than his eyes. His back and belly don’t appear to sag and his chest doesn’t sag below where his leg meets his shoulder.

These are all signs of a three year old buck. If the goal is to allow this buck to grow his best set of antlers it will be best to pass him this year. What would you do if you were hunting in South Dakota or an area with good quality habitat and saw this buck?

Enjoy pursuing deer,


Dr. Grant Woods
Dr. Grant Woods
Raised in the Ozark Mountains of Missouri, Dr. Grant Woods has consulted on wildlife research and management from Canada to New Zealand. A hunter since childhood, he not only knows how to grow big deer, but how to effectively hunt them as well. His work serves to improve deer herd quality and educate hunters about advanced management techniques.