Everyone with trail cameras needs to read this...

Discussion in 'Deer Management, Habitat & Conservation' started by deep woods goat hunter, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. deep woods goat hunter

    deep woods goat hunter I'm not crazy, I just want it more than you.

    From Text:
    You can hardly get on the internet during hunting season without seeing a photo of a whitetail buck someone has posted with the question, “How old is he?” Whats amusing is that some hunters really think they can accurately age bucks based off of photos. Even the QDMA has gotten in on the action by showing photos of wild bucks in their magazines which a panel of “experts” then scrutinize and give their input on the age of the buck in question.

    I probably have more experience with whitetail bucks than 99% of other deer hunters. Besides spending the last 40 years as a serious trophy hunter always striving to learn more and more about the bucks I pursue, I have also spent more than 20 years caring for a small captive herd of research whitetails. In that time I have watched roughly 200 bucks from the day they were born until they were a few years old. Thus I knew the exact age of these bucks at every point along the way. That experience alone should help me be better able to age bucks than the average deer hunter.

    I also run numerous trail cameras and have watched countless wild bucks mature over multiple years. These experiences certainly do not make me an expert on aging bucks …. and thats the point! With my vast experience which is certainly more substantial than most other deer hunters, I do not believe that I can simply look at a photo and age a whitetail buck with the degree of accuracy that one would think. I also do not believe anyone else can either.

    Now to be clear I do think that we can offer a guess as to a bucks age and sometimes do so accurately. Obviously the younger the buck the more accurate our guesses are. Many deer hunters can recognize a 1 1/2 year old buck most of the time … but none of us can age even these yearlings with 100% accuracy. There just isnt that much difference between a really nice yearling buck and a poorer 2 year old. Even so, I will give the benefit of the doubt and say that yearling bucks can be accurately aged by visual observation or a photo with 80-90% accuracy.

    This figure quickly drops however as the age of the bucks increase. When it comes to 2 1/2 year old bucks I firmly believe the accuracy level probably drops to less than 70% for most hunters. I expect a lot of hunters will disagree with me and think they can accurately judge age on 2 year old bucks better than 70% of the time. I doubt it; and again, I am not saying I can either. When it comes to bucks 3 1/2 years old and older I suspect the accuracy is probably not much better than 50%. Again, the hunting world is full of hunters that are convinced they are more accurate than this; I am not one of them.

    From my observations it is clear that most hunters over-estimate the age of the bucks they shoot. They do the same thing with the antlers scores of the same bucks. I cant even remember the number of bucks in the 2-3 year old range that score 120-130″ that were listed as 140″+ and 4 or 5 years old just this season. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a post of a buck and the hunter says it is 120″ 3 year old? It seldom happens but thousands of these kinds of bucks get shot every year. Heck, I see multiple 2 and 3 year old bucks that the hunter claims he has been chasing for several years. I often want to ask the hunter if he was chasing the buck when he was a fetus in his mommys belly!!!

    I am not here to say that I can age bucks any more accurately than anyone else. I can’t. What I am saying is that I have more experience with whitetail bucks, including a couple hundred of known ages and I still cannot accurately age wild bucks through photos. If I offer a bucks age in my writings or coversations, it is because I have watched that individual buck grow up through trail camera photos, visual sightings, etc. I dont just guestimate an age and throw it out as fact. I often say something like “he is at least 5 1/2 years old” because based on the information I have it is accurate. If I start keeping tabs on a buck when I feel strongly he is a 2 1/2 year old, then I feel I can give that buck an accurate age years down the road and do so. What I dont do is see a photo of an older age-class buck and assign him a definite age.

    There will always be those hunters who will throw out ages of bucks as if they are 100% accurate and sometimes they will be right … but not always. I am sure that plenty of self-appointed experts will pick apart this blog post so again, I am not saying that I can accurately age a buck through a photo. I am also not saying that it is impossible. What I AM saying is that I am certain nobody is nearly as accurate at it as they think they are. As my friend Kevin Boyer says, “if you really want to know for sure, send in his jaw bone after you shoot him!”
    MightyOaksBeagles likes this.
  2. callaojoe

    callaojoe Máistir an pointe hocht.

    Jan 21, 2004
    N/C Missouri
    Reads like the truth to me.... :wave1:

  3. henry

    henry Fan Boy aka Mr Twisty and

    I would agree with him.
  4. Lazarus

    Lazarus Well-Known Member

    Oct 9, 2014
    Needmore, serious
    Very good read and I strongly suspect very accurate.

    Side note, I particularly respect your proper usage of the term "yearling." It's rare in the deer hunting world.
  5. bajabill

    bajabill BDR529

    Feb 16, 2012
    East Central MO
    pop pop pop, hear all of those bubbles bursting!
    tcwild and fishshooter like this.
  6. fishshooter

    fishshooter Well-Known Member

    Mar 30, 2007
    Most of them will still be an "expert" I know a few that you just don't have a big enough pin to pop their balloon
    rat, tcwild and callaojoe like this.
  7. Cedar Thicket

    Cedar Thicket Blonde Bearded Guy

    Actually thought everything he said was obvious. Was it not?
    leasburg and 20' like this.
  8. callaojoe

    callaojoe Máistir an pointe hocht.

    Jan 21, 2004
    N/C Missouri
    Ya, it should be... Except that most people reading it... Are sitting there thinking, ya it's that other guy that can't age deer, I am an expert... :D
    tcwild, MeatHunter and DCSarchette like this.
  9. DCSarchette

    DCSarchette Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2016
    Bland, Mo.
    When I first started reading this article I thought--here goes another blowhart knowitall. After a lil bit I realized this was a humble, knowledgeable individual in my opinion. I agree with him pretty much 100%, I too get amused at the guesses, and realize several think guesses are facts. I also strongly agree with his opinions on antler scores. I have been guilty of having the "big eye" in the past myself, but after several ground shrinkages, have humbled myself considerably. If anything, I now probably under guess antlers. At times this does upset request for guesses, but a guess was requested. For instance, the one in my avatar, I was calling 150's, he ended up being 163 7/8ths. His age has been guessed from 5 1/2 to 8 1/2. From 3 years of cam pictures, I am saying he is at least 6 1/2, but actually feel he is older, after knowing his score at harvest to compare to the previous 3 years. By comparison to harvest pictures, he had about an additional 15-20 inches the year before and was a 160's the year before that. I now wish I had sent in a tooth just to satisfy my wonderment.
  10. Mailman

    Mailman Well-Known Member

    Feb 2, 2005
    Blue Springs Mo
    How old is he.....

    Fawn May 5 2006 _8.jpg
    trailblazer75 likes this.
  11. Hawk

    Hawk Well-Known Member Sponsor

    Oct 15, 2009
    Our group has been very accurate at aging over the last 4-5 years. Of course most times its 5-10 guys that are very experienced that are contributing/discussing. Of course the only way to verify is to actually kill the deer and send it in for cementum analysis, so who knows how many times we have been wrong and just didnt kill the deer to find out.

    But I would tend to agree with the guy, most people want a deer to be older than it is, or score more, and will tell themselves its both to justify shooting it, or justify that they already shot it.
    20' likes this.
  12. Jagermeister

    Jagermeister Senior Hunter

    I believe people get it wrong mostly because of the yearling age. I look at it as button buck is 1/2 year old. A spike or fork horn or is 1 1/2.
    bowhuntKS likes this.
  13. WBF

    WBF Wolf Brook Farms

    Oct 25, 2013
    So no more how old/what does he score threads ???
  14. CRE10

    CRE10 No to Drugs Yes to Hugs

    Nov 18, 2013
    In a barn
    He's 150 and 5.5.
    Hawk, WBF and deep woods goat hunter like this.
  15. callaojoe

    callaojoe Máistir an pointe hocht.

    Jan 21, 2004
    N/C Missouri
    You can't stop those, they are like a 400' tidal wave crashing into MWT each August/September.... :D
    WBF likes this.
  16. Hawk

    Hawk Well-Known Member Sponsor

    Oct 15, 2009
    Pretty much average for a 5 yr old...:cheers:
    CRE10 likes this.
  17. Steelman

    Steelman Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2009
    How old and what's the score :D I'll admit that he's a little unusual but I know what he scored as we found him as a dead head and I've got a fair guess as to his age. Just curious what everyone else thinks?

  18. deep woods goat hunter

    deep woods goat hunter I'm not crazy, I just want it more than you.

    I was wondering who would be the first one to post a pic on this thread, LOL. You WIN!
  19. bajabill

    bajabill BDR529

    Feb 16, 2012
    East Central MO
    there are 4 kinds of deer: doe, fawns, yearlings, and shooters.
  20. CRE10

    CRE10 No to Drugs Yes to Hugs

    Nov 18, 2013
    In a barn
    But what about cull and management bucks? :D