Jun 27, 2012, 1:01 AM EDT
By Bill Miller
The modern deer hunter is almost bound to find himself in a hunting situation in which it’s important he or she be able to accurately judge the age of a buck regardless of the rack size or number of points. Many of us are members of hunt clubs that strive to maximize the numbers of bucks in all age classes on our property and promote trophy-size and genetics. To achieve these goals, it’s critical to harvest “the right” bucks at the “right time” in the management program.
Another situation that calls for accurately judging the age of bucks is on a paid hunt on any managed hunting property whether low-fence or high-fence. If you make a mistake and take a young buck with lots of potential instead of an old buck that’s past its prime, the hunt can get a lot more expensive really quickly. I remember sitting mid-day in a Texas stand one time and having an honest 8×8 come into the clearing. I knew this wasn’t a buck I was allowed to shoot on the hunt I was on, but just for kicks I got out my phone and called back to ranch headquarters to ask about the buck. They told me I could shoot him, but the ranch owner wanted a $15,000 trophy fee on top of the price of the hunt for that buck. I passed.
Yet the skill of accurately aging deer on the hoof is one that’s not easily learned these days by regular hunters. Few of us have the opportunity to see and study enough deer over the course of our lifetimes, let alone during the hunting season. It’s a skill that takes instruction from a mentor and practice in see a lot of bucks in situations where you can make comparisons.
Well, this all got a little easier with the Quality Deer Management Association’s introduction of a new DVD guide titled “Aging & Scoring Bucks on the Hoof.” QDMA’s staff deer biologists spent hours reviewing footage of live whitetails to select numerous examples of bucks of different ages. This footage is combined with descriptions of the characteristics to look for and other tips that will help you gain confidence and skill when estimating the age and score of live bucks. The final portion of the 35-minute DVD includes test sequences that allow you to practice your aging and scoring skills on live bucks.
There are two ways to get your copy of Aging and Scoring Bucks on the Hoof:
1. If you’ve never been a member of QDMA, become a new member today for $30 and receive the DVD as a free gift, part of your Membership Welcome Kit. You get the DVD ($19.95 value) plus a one-year membership, six issues of Quality Whitetails magazine, and other benefits for just $30.
2. Purchase the DVD alone for $19.95 through QDMA’s shopping site The Shed.
Either way it’s well worth the price to ensure you not only know “how big was he?”, but “how old was he?”, too.
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