“So, I do not think it is possible to make a reliable age estimate from shed antlers. When a buck is 1-1/2 years of age and grows his first set of antlers, in Virginia on average he will have four points, a 16mm or 5/8 inch antler beam diameter (~ dime diameter), and just over an 8 … However, most of the places where we hunt, we get the smaller Canada geese. Why was this buck in this place when he dropped this antler? Once the deer is fully developed, the deer's body can concentrate on antler growth. Age is the simplest factor and also easy to manage. He earned his journalism degree at the University of Georgia. Dan Bergeron, deer project leader with the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department (NHFGD), shared one with me. For new shooters or those that have trouble looking at open sights or scopes, finding your dominant eye is the first step to becoming a better shot. Palm. A few free-ranging bucks make it to the post-mature age category. Bucks with their first set of antlers are the easiest to age. Deer Hunting Gear: Get Your Basics at Walmart, Staying Hydrated, Choosing the Proper Choke Size, Shot Size and Using Decoys for Doves, Will Jimeno Determines Not to Let the Terrorists of 9/11 Win, Temperature Helps Determine Decoy Set-Ups, Resident Goose Hunting with Richie McKnight, Tackling the Tackle Box: Restocking What You’ll Need for Future Fishing Trips. If you can, combine the more reliable body characteristics with the dimensions of the shed and produce a more reliable estimate of this buck’s age. This recipe can be made with roasted or smoked pheasant. Well, what can you say about the mass of a New Hampshire shed antler? An older deer that lived a healthy life will have long, many pointed antlers with few flaws. Antlers. It’s a given! Eight point deer are usually 3 or 4 year-old bucks but also ageing bucks and bucks living in poor habitats. In case the deer is hunted before its antlers mature, the points tend to be small. You know that bucks in different regions of the country have varying antler potential. The first year he may only have 2 small horn-like antlers coming out the pedicles, while the following year these may branch out into 4 points. We believe it is our responsibility to ensure the future of wild deer, wildlife habitat and hunting. (Photo by Maximus Studios) Yearling moose are the most easily aged identified, they typically have two or three points on each side and are of the cervina type. Their increased body mass gives them a more rounded appearance, and they may look like a small cow. The earliest fossil remains of antlers that have been found are dated to the early Miocene, about 17 million years ago. About all you can say about sheds and age is, the smallest antler in your collection probably fell off a yearling and the largest probably fell off a fully mature buck. That means that for any age class, there’s a common average, but there are also uncommon bucks with below- and above-average antlers for their age. The size and formation of deer antlers depend on a lot of different factors, such as age, nutrients, and genetics. As the authority on all things deer, we blend the art of hunting with the science of management to create better deer and better deer hunting. But that's the AVERAGE. That is, an AR that works on one property may not work on another. Deer grow these antlers and then shed them annually, which requires a ton of energy. So, this is what I recommend you do with shed antlers: First, if you don’t already recognize this antler from a buck that is familiar to you, go ahead and attempt to use it to estimate age. However, they also may have a pot belly and a sagging back. This is why learning to judge age by body characteristics is so important, because a one-year-old with great characteristics is the exact buck you want to let develop until five or six. We are hunters from all walks of life who share a passion for deer. Overlap is why QDMA emphasizes the danger of trying to age bucks by looking at their antler size, especially when you are evaluating those antlers through a rifle scope or peep sight. Of the 34 white-tailed deer biologists surveyed to test this method, 60% failed to correctly age known-age jawbones that were 2 years old or older. Their faces appear to have taut skin around the jaw. Pheasant smokes quickly, and it generates a flavorful, moist product when done. Despite overlap, it’s still a good idea to collect antler measurements like mass and beam length from every buck you kill, and match those numbers with the buck’s estimated age based on tooth wear and replacement. The best place for the giant Canadas is northern Illinois. Research shows that at this age, most bucks have achieved 50 to 75 percent of their antler-growth potential. Best way to tell how old they are is the teeth. It’s also a helpful strategy to match shed antlers to bucks in your trail-camera photos. I knew I’d need to find a large, high-quality data set of antler measurements combined with estimated ages of the bucks that grew them. This is something I’ve often wondered, so I went looking for an answer. You could assign each animal to a ‘probable’ age, but the accuracy of such assignments would be low for deer 3½ years old and older.”. Now we should be looking at a fully muscled neck that blends into his deep chest and well-defined muscled shoulders. The following characteristics are fairly consistent for whitetails throughout their range. Yearling bucks can carry anything from 2-inch spikes to 10-point basket racks.” To protect more yearling whitetails, researchers prefer antler criteria such as a minimum spread between the main beams, or the beam’s total length. But it is impossible to tell the exact age of the buck even with well developed antlers, because you don't know if you are looking at that particular deer's biggest set of antlers. Knowing the average antler dimensions by age of bucks where you hunt will help you track improvements in those averages as your herd and habitat management efforts move them higher. Step Four. Don’t you love that little thrill, that tiny psychological jolt you get when you first spot a shed antler? FAROUTDUDE1970. For older age classes, however, you can forget it. You will develop a more effective management plan if you can distinguish a buck’s age by assessing it in a photo or by sight. Mature Whitetail Bucks: Why Don’t I See More? Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M-Kingsville, How to Read Shed Antlers for Health and Habitat Clues, Where, When and How to Find More Shed Antlers, 6 Things You Can Learn From Shed Antlers (And 1 You Can’t), What Killed That Deer? Those will be your Boone & Crocket candidates. My favorite Canada goose to hunt is the big giant Canada goose. Age, diet and health are determining factors in the size, shape and color of the whitetail deer's antlers. Now the antlers can have a spread even with or outside the ears with decent mass. Thus, most deer in Tennessee will not begin to reach their genetic potential until 31/2 years or older. LockerSource Features Four Different Mossy Oak Designs on NEW Lockers, Kentucky Is a Top Pick for Hunting Waterfowl for McKnight, 9 New Year’s Resolutions for Hunters and Anglers. This institute has collected some of the largest sets of data on known-age bucks and their antler size anywhere in North America. Fact #5: After the rut, a deer sheds their antler velvet. During the rut they should have noticeably larger tarsal glands that are dark-stained with some staining possibly extending down their legs. The main beam is the main branch of the antler, and the tip of the main beam is counted as one of the points. A Red deer with 12 points (six per antler) to his antler is called a “Royal stag”, while 14 points make an “Imperial stag” and an animal with 16 points or more is referred to as a … They generally have loose skin on their face, neck and shoulders – usually visible as a “chin flap” – and they may have pointed shoulder and hip bones. That's also a mistake. A deer could lose an antler during a fight with another male, or they could lose … Throughout his career as an editor, he has written and published numerous articles on deer management and hunting. Antler scores by age class form a bell-shaped curve on a graph. Figure 10. 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