Here are three can’t miss tips which will help you determine if a buck is mature, or if he still has some growing left to do.
Whitetail bucks come in all shapes and sizes, and depending on what part of the country you are hunting in, the genetics of the deer, and how much food/protein the buck has access to, can each have an impact on how large the deer will grow over the years.
But regardless of those variables, these three tips will help you determine if the buck you have in your sights is indeed mature, or has still not hit that final growth spurt.
1. Overall Height and Width
Try to use the deer’s ears as a standard measuring point. If the width of the buck’s antlers are inside his ears, he most likely has growth left ahead of him. As bucks mature, the width of their antlers can extend many inches outside of their ears, and ten to twenty inches high above their ears.
In most cases, an older buck’s antlers are substantially thicker than those of a younger buck. A thick and heavy rack is one of the best indicators that a buck is fully mature.
3. Body Size
Young bucks have lean bodies, a thin neck, and appear more streamlined and athletic, rather than bulky. Mature bucks, on the other hand, will have a swollen, muscular neck, big pot belly, and might have a sway back. If the buck in your scope appears scrawny, he is most likely a youngster.
Take a quick look at the slideshow to see a comparison of mature and not so mature bucks.
Notice how much heavier the rack is on the right. That’s one of the telltale signs of a mature buck.
Another good tip to remember: If you are able to compare one buck with another in the field, do it. If you are watching a nice 8 point, and another 8 point comes into view, ask yourself:
Which one has a wider/higher set of antlers? Which one has more mass? When you compare the bodies, what do you see?
This is a good example of a big mature buck, even though he is a six point. Notice the overall height & width of the rack.
The rack is both high and outside the ears. Also, he has dark heavy horns and a big body. Given all these attributes, I’d say he meets the criteria of being a mature buck.
I would hold off on this guy. He has some height to his rack, but it’s not very wide, just right at the ears. The mass isn’t there either, and his neck looks pretty lean.
Now it’s your turn to decide…
Would you shoot him?