How to Field-Judge Whitetail Deer

The ability to judge a deer's age is more important than you think ... can you ace this quiz from the National Deer Association?

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posted on September 12, 2022

If you're hunting private land this year, you may discover that the landowner has rules about which bucks you may and may not harvest. It's quite common for folks who manage hunting on their land to require that bucks get to a certain age and size before they can be taken. So how can you tell how old a deer is just by looking at it? The good news is that you don't have to be Natty Bumppo to field-judge a whitetail deer; you just need to know what to look for. 

Aging deer in the field is an important skill for any hunter who wants to increase the number of adult bucks in the woods they hunt and help balance the buck-to-doe ratio for improved herd health. In this terrific video from the National Deer Association (NDA), you'll get to watch dozens of live whitetails in the field along with a tutorial on how to tell how old they are. (Here's a hint: Buck deer have a lot in common with aging humans ... they tend to get a little thicker in the middle as time goes on.) 

NDA’s Chief Conservation Officer and host of the video, Kip Adams, notes that aging deer isn't an exact science. "It’s a personal skill that is improved through practice, experience and follow-through," he states. Be sure to challenge yourself with the 20-buck quiz at the end of the video. You may surprise yourself with how well you do ... or how much you still need to learn! 

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