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?

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! 


Hiss Hiss This Is Snek
Hiss Hiss This Is Snek

Launching 2023: Colt King Cobra .22LR

The fangs may be slimmer, but the strike just as accurate.

Top 4 Ways to Carry a Binocular

Quality glass is a boon to a hunter—but what's the best way to keep your bino handy?

NRA-Backed Constitutional Carry Introduced in Florida

Once signed into law, more than half of the nation will recognize this fundamental right.

10 Range-Bag Must-Haves (You Didn't Know You Needed)

Does every one of these suggestions have a hard-luck story behind it? Maybe...

Launching 2023: Caldwell Claymore

Solo clays practice doesn't have to be time-consuming or expensive, as Caldwell and contributor Frank Melloni prove.

Save Your Spine: How to Pack a Backpack

Here's how to carry everything you need without hurting your back.


Get the best of NRA Family delivered to your inbox.