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1.5-5.5 year old bucks
Anyone have any pics of the same deer starting at 1.5 years old for a few years? Or links to articles? While it is easy to identify a spike as a yearling I often wonder how people identify some decently racked bucks as yearlings. I think a good or great yearling can often be confused with a 2.5. Would love to see actual examples if you have any. Thanks!
I've watched lots of mule deer age over several years. I'd say body size and shape is a better indicator then antlers. At least until the antlers start to get some real mass.
The late Charles Alsheimer documented a buck that he photographed like this that I always remembered. It was on a 3,000 acre estate of his where he did his research, but pretty neat nevertheless. I’ve always respected him and his work.
I find it difficult to track bucks from their first rack (1 year old) ahead to their second rack (2 yr old). Mainly because the antler conformation makes the biggest change & growth at that step. There are individual body features that are sometimes recognizable like the white/black areas of the nose band, and in rare cases, maybe the throat patch. But lots of bucks are very similar in those features. Some bucks also display distinctive posture habits that are recognizable. And then sometimes they will have ear notches or other damage around the ears that are permanent and easy to recognize, but that's rare for yearlings, and usually only happens later in life. But then in the later successive years after the second rack, I can usually ID all bucks on my place, almost entirely by antler conformation combined with body development.
We came across a chart like this several years ago while hunting on a lease that only wanted bucks 4 yrs and older taken. It proved fairly reliable.
Studying it closely (not in the blind or stand) helped us key in on key visual cues like the blending of the neck into the back or lower chest; depth of chest, etc.
Hope it helps.
Another note to add...sometimes they'll even have some freakish feature to identify them. This 4x4 buck I've been watching for several years, has extra long hooves. Often see him standing with his front legs forward. The extended hooves come & go during the year as he wears them off but then grow back. Have never seen this feature on any other individual deer here.
I can't say for sure, but just feel there are very few 1.5 year olds with decent racks. Maybe we confuse them with 2.5 year olds, like you say, but I'm thinking not. Anytime you think a deer is on the young side of rack potential, that's a good one to pass. For me, it is a lot tougher on older age class deer, because things like the rut can really influence how the body looks. That chart above looks pretty accurate though.
I also have a lot of difficulty identifying a buck year to year. I will admit that I do not spend a lot of time trying starting at 1 1/2 or 2 1/2. The 3 1/2 and older must change too much or move on because I can identify very few year to year.
I’ve tracked a number of bucks through the years but have a hard time at 1.5 a lot of time. a spike is easy, but many 1.5’s are not spikes. Then you get those “special” deer like Don Higgins said one of his bucks was like 130” or something at 1.5. The range can be so huge at that age
I am feeding deer through the winter. What age bucks are these?
If those were bucks here in Indiana, I'd assume at least 3 of the 4 bucks in that pic were yearlings. Perhaps the same is true in MB. Over the last 35 years, I've looked at a lot of lower jaws from bucks like those that died in the fall or early winter, and having slender little 6 and 8 point frames measuring about 10-12 inches wide. Usually the permanent pre-molars are emerging or freshly emerged. That happens in whitetail deer like clockwork at about 19 months of age.
I believe spike yearlings are often the result of having been born to late-bred does.
www.Deerage.com posts the age with pictures of the deer they age on Instagram. Before I click on the actual age I guess by evaluating the photo, body size, mass and antlers. Bucks over 6.5 are super rare and sometimes racks and body are in decline. Sorta like us:)
Prefer to judge them on the hoof, instead of one picture. I think the deer on the right appears to be a classic 2.5 yr-old, the two at back center look like definite 1.5 yr-olds. Front center I could see being a 1.5 or 2.5 with not very good antler potential, but would lean towards the 1.5. Judgments from one picture, and not seeing them actually walk around, which helps a lot.
Sticksender, your thoughts are exactly as mine. For me to evaluate deer and continue to know them from year to year, there has to be some type of antler growth characteristic that allows us to know them as they get older. Sometimes that’s hard to do also if you have bucks with similar antler configurations. It’s usually when a buck gets to 3.5 when they are easily identified by antlers. I do know the average buck harvest age is 4.5 years done by cementum annuli process. How folks follow a buck from 1.5 is beyond me, unless they have a notable feature on their body.
I got a couple 2-4 or 2-5. But never from 1. I don’t even try to keep track of yearlings. They’re mostly spikes or forks or other little guys here, and who knows what they turn into the next year
Agree with several of sticksender’s comments, as well as other’s. IMO, it would close to impossible to say with 100% certainty, that one could identify a 1.5 yr old buck the following year at 2.5, without a unique characteristic, marking, etc. Just not enough to work with. I suck at estimating a deer’s age on the hoof, and without a history with it, it’s just a WAG for me. I deleted a pile of past trail cam videos and pics, so I’m limited in going back very far on a particular buck’s history, and, unless it’s fairly obvious, some bucks ID’s get by me from one year to the next. Fortunately, I have a buddy that I share tons of videos and pics with, and he has an almost photographic memory. More than once, he’s pointed out to me a buck that I didn’t recognize, was “so and so” from a previous year. He’s usually right, too.
Here’s a few pics of a buck I nicknamed “#2” ala Austin Powers, plus he was the #2 buck on my hit list, starting in 2018. I’ll put the year under the pics. The first year that I was aware of this buck was in 2016. His biggest identifiable features were the curl on his right brow, and he has kind of an unusual bit of a hump on his shoulders. My best guess is that he is at least 3.5 in this first pic, possibly 4.5.
I almost got a shot at him in 2019, while he was following a doe, but she zigged when she should have zagged, and they both walked by me just out of range. In 2020, I had him at 20 yds, with a perfect, wide open broadside shot, but I was already tagged out! Finally, in 2021, caught him cruising for does, and I grunted him over to me and made a great shot on him at 32 yds.
Trail cam pics don’t do that buck justice Troy! Congrats! So he was prob 8.5 or 9.5 when you killed him? What was his rack like do you think relative to his max? Can’t see that well but from what you posted only other year that may have rivalled is 2018 but we don’t see the whole rack
Thanks, Adam. My guess was he was either 8 or 9 years old. I never did find any of his sheds, but IMO, I think his rack was probably the most impressive the year I killed him. He certainly didn’t seem regress any, to me at least. He fluctuated between a 9 pointer and a 10.
Of untold numbers of bucks over the years in a target rich environment; I can only think of 1 or 2 bucks that had identifiable traits at 1.5. Things like a bobbed tail, a ripped ear... still sorta rare for a yearling. I think that's why I and most anyone who keeps archives of every deer that is somewhat unique typically starts at 2.5 or 3.5.
But wait.... there is one that I am currently following! My first trail cam footage of him ever was a video of him standing in front of the camera suc..... nevermind, you get it! From that day on I knew I had to keep track of him with his notable ear damage to both sides..... I decided to call him "ugly".... maybe shoulda named him "cock su...." :-)
I grabbed some stills from the videos from 2020 and this year. 2021 I only got a handful of pictures- I think. But the progression has been really cool to see. Started as a crappy spike and look at him now!
Ugly at 3.5.
Anyone who is dumb enough to believe that old "once a spike, always a spike" bs should look at this deer. He could be the next NY booner I hunt if he keeps making these gains!
Not all deer woods are the same, nutrition and genetics are different in different areas.
Here in the appalachian mts of PA. A 1.5 year old could be a spike, forkhorn, or six. Sometimes they may be 8's or even more, but the rack will be thin, not much mass.
I have seen big 6's with a bit of mass that are 21/2 or possibly even 31/2 yr old buck with a spindly 8 that is only a 11/2 hr old.
i agree with the comment someone made about the biggest change being between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 yr old...That is most definitely the case here in the bigwoods of PA.
Body size is what i go by more than anything, along with the mass. Although a older buck might get run down from the rut, his frame will almost always be larger. Butcher enough deer and you will notice the difference, whether they are run down or not.
That's super cool Saddle!! Hope you get a crack at that cocksuc...er when he's 5.5! lol Thanks for sharing that. Super interesting to see. Couldn't see his one brow in the 2.5 photos but I imagine resembled the 3.5 brows?
APauls so you are saying that you have yearlings that were born less than a year ago with 6 and 8 point racks?
Buckdeer a yearling is a 1.5 year old deer. Fawn is less than a year old. So far as I know it has never happened for a fawn to have more than like 1.5" of bone in that first year. Even in farms.
APauls I'd have to dig through velvet videos from '21 to see if that side had a brow - my guess is it was weak or we'd see a hint of it. He's not a great 3.5 now, but he's not bad either. This area saw one of the driest summers in many decades which I have to imagine may have repressed some growth potential. It will be interesting to see the complete progression in the coming years if I am fortunate to, and he lives.