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How old?

antlerradar

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Oct 23, 2012
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1,619
Location
SE Montana
I truly believe that the vast majority of the "big" deer getting killed in Montana are 3.5 or sometimes 4.5 year old bucks with great genetics. The majority of hunters just can't pass up anything with extra points or a decent frame. I see a lot of pictures of baby faced bucks with extras that people refer to as "giants". The bucks that get to 5 years or older are usually bucks that don't have the genetics to ever get big. Bucks that have both age and good genetics are unicorns in this state.

I want to get better at judging age so I have started to keep the teeth off everything I kill to get lab aged. In the past I have had a couple disagreements with people about the age of a buck that they killed and when that happens in the future I am going to ask them if I can have the teeth to send in.
There is a lot of truth in this post. I believe that once a buck has lived though his first winter his antler potential is for the most part set. Good years my bump potential up a bit and bad years down but from what I have seen based on the antlers I have found it takes something extraordinary to get more than a 5% difference. Something like the drought this year.
If your were to graph the antler potential of 10,0000 bucks at age 6 you would form a nice bell curve. Some bucks would score less than 125 and a few would be better than 200. Most would fall somewhere in the middle. In SE Montana the middle is going to be some were around 160 to 165. This would mean that there is just as may bucks that will never make 150 as bucks that have a chance to be better than 180. The key point is that the bucks with high end potential are growing antlers that are better at age three than most buck will ever grow.
The more selective we are the more we will shoot bucks on the big side of the bell curve and the fewer big deer we will have. Long seasons during the rut, better technology, readily available options to fill the freezer and plenty of other reasons allow us to be more selective. This is why four point or better APR fail and isolated limited entry units often struggle to produce dramatic results. APR's require us shoot more deer from the big side of the bell curve. In limited units you gain little if you cut tag numbers by 75% and then concentrate the harvest in the top quarter of the bell curve. If you want to grow more big deer you need to shift the harvest more towards the smaller side of the bell curve. None of the options to do that would be very popular.
 
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antlerradar

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Oct 23, 2012
Messages
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SE Montana
I think you may be a year short on his age. I think 5 is a good guess even with your series of pictures of him.

One thing that I use to determine age is comparing the hindquarter to the front shoulder. If they are 2 or younger they have a bigger hind quarter than front shoulder, at 3 it is about equal and then from 4 on it seems like their front shoulders are bigger than their hind quarters.

In that first picture with the other bucks his body is bigger and his front shoulders are already as big as his back end. I think he is 3 in that picture.

For sure a beautiful buck though

I truly believe that the vast majority of the "big" deer getting killed in Montana are 3.5 or sometimes 4.5 year old bucks with great genetics. The majority of hunters just can't pass up anything with extra points or a decent frame. I see a lot of pictures of baby faced bucks with extras that people refer to as "giants". The bucks that get to 5 years or older are usually bucks that don't have the genetics to ever get big. Bucks that have both age and good genetics are unicorns in this state.

I want to get better at judging age so I have started to keep the teeth off everything I kill to get lab aged. In the past I have had a couple disagreements with people about the age of a buck that they killed and when that happens in the future I am going to ask them if I can have the teeth to send in.
This public land buck was aged at 4.5. He made less than two hours into archery season. I often wonder just how big he would have been at age 8. Realistically though his chances of making another 11 weeks of season were somewhere between slim and none. art's deer.jpg
 
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npaden

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Feb 3, 2011
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3,603
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Lubbock, Texas
Really the only way to tell for sure is cementum annuli aging by the lab and even then there could be outliers if there are crazy conditions. Like an exceptional drought or a very mild winter that may or may not create a growth ring. It is more accurate up north for sure though.

Looking at the teeth in post 97 I would guess 4.5 years old max. The edges of the teeth have very sharp ridges and really don't show much wear to me. But the biologist said 7-8.

Compare those teeth to post 101. I would guess that deer at 7 or 8. Massive wear all the way around, mostly down to the dentin. The biologist says 6-8.

Even looking at teeth there is still a lot of subjectivity to it.
 

bigsky2

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Feb 17, 2016
Messages
386
Ever meet someone that thinks all 1 year old bucks are spikes or two points?

shed.jpg

This is a shed from a 1 year old buck that was later harvested and lab aged at 4.5
 

Bambistew

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Joined
Dec 10, 2002
Messages
5,915
Location
Chugiak, AK
I just got this big old guy in Montana. Essentially just a huge 2 point but he does have a small 3rd point on the one antler. Notice he has a huge body, a neck like a 5 gallon bucket, and a wide broad white nose. I had a biologist age him at 7-8 years by looking at his lower jaw and teeth. Pretty cool buck to me.

David

View attachment 162979

View attachment 162980 View attachment 162988


View attachment 162989
I'd guess him at 4. By 7-8 the middle teeth should be worn to near the gumline.
 

crock239

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Joined
Sep 18, 2012
Messages
210
Location
Iowa
Alright....im curious on my brother'sbuck from this year....by searching "how to age deer by teeth" id guess 4.5-5.5 or so....what do y'all think? Don't have the lower jaw anymore and didn't get to show to a bio so it really is a guessing game and just curiosity at this point....

25809.jpeg

25808.jpeg

20201112_084302.jpg
20201112_084333.jpg
20201112_084337.jpg
 

npaden

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Joined
Feb 3, 2011
Messages
3,603
Location
Lubbock, Texas
You really need a top down shot as well but if I have to put it down to the year guess I would say 6.5. At least 5.5. My 2 cents.
 

nick87

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Joined
Dec 12, 2014
Messages
2,046
Location
Northern Illinois
There is a lot of truth in this post. I believe that once a buck has lived though his first winter his antler potential is for the most part set. Good years my bump potential up a bit and bad years down but from what I have seen based on the antlers I have found it takes something extraordinary to get more than a 5% difference. Something like the drought this year.
If your were to graph the antler potential of 10,0000 bucks at age 6 you would form a nice bell curve. Some bucks would score less than 125 and a few would be better than 200. Most would fall somewhere in the middle. In SE Montana the middle is going to be some were around 160 to 165. This would mean that there is just as may bucks that will never make 150 as bucks that have a chance to be better than 180. The key point is that the bucks with high end potential are growing antlers that are better than most buck will ever grow at age three.
The more selective we are the more we will shoot bucks on the big side of the bell curve and the fewer big deer we will have. Long seasons during the rut, better technology, readily available options to fill the freezer and plenty of other reasons allow us to be more selective. This is why four point or better APR fail and isolated limited entry units often struggle to produce dramatic results. APR's require us shoot more deer from the big side of the bell curve. In limited units you gain little if you cut tag numbers by 75% and then concentrate the harvest in the top quarter of the bell curve. If you want to grow more big deer you need to shift the harvest more towards the smaller side of the bell curve. None of the options to do that would be very popular.
100% agree.
 

antlerradar

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Joined
Oct 23, 2012
Messages
1,619
Location
SE Montana
This thread and the threads featuring some dandy big old two point bucks has got me wondering just how effective hunting the rut will be in harvesting older age class bucks to reduce CWD in SE Montana.
The rut in general gives hunter a better chance at seeing a larger number of bucks so we can be more selective. We will select for antler size. It is certainly true that there is a correlation between antler size and age but it is far from a prefect correlation. The problem is not on public land but on private. The big populations of does are on the creek and river bottoms that are mostly private and leased for hunting. These populations of does draw bucks from miles around during the rut. The hunters hunting the leases are selecting for antler size far more than the hunters a few miles away on the public uplands. Hunters paying 5 grand+ to go hunting are not going to be cutting their tag on a sub 140 inch two or three point. Instead they are going to shoot the 160 inch three year old and the cool old bucks like those posted in the other threads will live to old age and die of natural causes as long as they stay on the leased private land.
 

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