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View Full Version : How Can You Tell If A Deer Is Of Harvestable Size?



MLN1963
09-03-2011, 12:18 PM
I know that deer here in SW OK are certainly smaller in stature than the corn fed deer in MN where I grew up. So I'm trying to come up with some good ways to age a doe or buck from looking at them. Are there any reliable ways to look at a deer and determine if it is a shooter or not? I mean beside seeing a 10 point buck! One that arrow is released it is too late to change your mind. I'm afraid my son will shoot anything that walks in front of him, especially a buck. I also don't want to shoot too young of deer in the heat of the moment.

To the seasoned hunter these may seem like a stupid questions, but my son and I are not seasoned hunters. The bottom line is I want us to be a responsible archers.

droppixel
09-03-2011, 12:36 PM
Everyone's definition of a "Shooter" is different. A shooter for you, may be a let 'em walk for me and vice versa. I'd check out some searches on field aging. There are some good tips out there that will help you figure out roughly what age deer you are looking at based on body characteristics and build. The check/brisket/bell/rump are all good signs.

As far as does go, I'll just be giving them a rough guess - if I like the size, done deal. If it she is clearly small - I'll let her go. Although, first doe I see this year that doesn't have spots and has a decent size small/large is gonna get it.

bfisher
09-03-2011, 01:59 PM
It can be hard, especially if it's a lone deer. If it's two babes with their mother then it's easier. That being said, if you want something unique to mount then those little critters with spots fill the bill. LOL.

MLN1963
09-03-2011, 02:21 PM
No Bambis wanted here Barry. I'm not trophy hunting either. I just want something in between. Honestly I don't even care if it is a buck or not. My kid is horn hunting. Gramps has taken him rifle hunting the last 2 years and has let him shoot what I think was too small. Of course I wasn't there to say wait and G-Pa won't say no.

Destroyer
09-03-2011, 03:24 PM
I also don't want to shoot too young of deer in the heat of the moment.

Just a part of hunting, you need to be able to say yes or no not only for size but for shot angle, distance, etc. Don't stress about it, have fun! :)

Arrow Splitter
09-03-2011, 04:48 PM
To the seasoned hunter these may seem like a stupid questions, but my son and I are not seasoned hunters. The bottom line is I want us to be a responsible archers.That's definitely not a stupid question. I have passed up a couple deer do to them being too small. It's really your call as to whether the deer is a shooter or not.

Sharxfan
09-03-2011, 05:33 PM
If it doesn't have white dots!!! :p

Rangerj
09-03-2011, 05:46 PM
If it doesn't have white dots!!! :p

And ain't with Mama:cool:

Destroyer
09-03-2011, 05:50 PM
Dutch: If it bleeds, we can kill it.

Predator movie. :p

gravedigger
09-03-2011, 06:12 PM
im in it for the food,so that being said..if it walks i will shoot it

Rangerj
09-03-2011, 06:14 PM
Yes I need to put meat in the freezer first,then I select hunt.

HawgEnvy
09-03-2011, 06:58 PM
honestly,Mark. If you've never taken a deer with a bow,shoot the first thing that gives you the opportunity. Some may cringe at the idea,but you need to get a few under your belt and learn what it feels like. Anyone can shoot a deer w a gun. Not so easy for a new bowhunter though. A good chance your nerves will get the best of you. You will be flooded w every emotion you have all at once. Your first deer w a bow will be one you'll not forget. Let this be a season of learning and get some meat in your freezer. That's what will keep you hooked on bowhunting. Plenty off time down the road to be picky.

Sharxfan
09-03-2011, 07:04 PM
MLN, I look at it this way. I pay so much for the privilege to hunt. In order to make a return on my investment in some good tasting meat I cannot afford to be to picky about what I am shooting. Also at our lease they give us a boatload of doe tags so they must not be too worried about a harvestable sized deer. Besides if I see one this year I will be so amped up I won't be taking the time to bother with trying to figure out how old it is.

droppixel
09-03-2011, 09:31 PM
Neck the size of 20 gallon drum, gut sagging, rack too huge for it's head - pass on him and give me a call so I can chase him off. :rolleyes:


LOL if Sonny doesn't answer the phone, you can give me a jingle as his back-up. :p


honestly,Mark. If you've never taken a deer with a bow,shoot the first thing that gives you the opportunity. Some may cringe at the idea,but you need to get a few under your belt and learn what it feels like. Anyone can shoot a deer w a gun. Not so easy for a new bowhunter though. A good chance your nerves will get the best of you. You will be flooded w every emotion you have all at once. Your first deer w a bow will be one you'll not forget. Let this be a season of learning and get some meat in your freezer. That's what will keep you hooked on bowhunting. Plenty off time down the road to be picky.

I was just watching/reading something that said the same exact thing. Don't worry about being so selective early on in your hunting career. Be selective if it makes sense for the bucks to grow and if you are in a low pressure place where there is a great chance to see him through next season or 2 seasons, etc - but for the most part they said, take those shots. Get to know the feeling, so when Mr. Freak-nasty strolls along you won't completely choke. You'll know how the shots feel, the chase, etc. That is my plan for now.

I haven't been fortunate enough to tag a deer since '08 and that was my first! I shot a doe within 5 minutes of being on stand, 2 actually walked up on me before I even had a chance to pull my bow up! I waited for about 1.5 minutes thinking "I'll just see what happens" and then about 2 seconds after that, I nocked an arrow and let 'er go. Then a buck about 5 minutes after that, it was a crazy afternoon.

The following season I was geared and ready to go, had a few opportunities at some does, that I let go because of sign they were giving me during the rut, thinking a buck was hot on their heels, when in fact it was just a button buck both times. Looking back at that, I should have taken those does, though at the time I was getting ahead of myself thinking I was going to land a monster. Following year, I told myself I wasn't going to be so timid, I had some good opportunity early season does and 1 small buck, that I passed on when I should have just taken the does. Had a few other opportunity at another buck and I spooked him on accident when I went to stand up, shoulda shot from sitting...and a few more chances on does and ended up having my hat screw with my anchor and couldn't feel comfortable letting the arrow go. All those years I was shooting an older Martin of my dad's and wasn't as confident with it as I should have been, I didn't shoot it as much as I should have. Now I have my own bow, been shooting like crazy since January and I know I'm ready for that first doe or buck ("big"6 or better).

Ehunter
09-04-2011, 01:17 AM
Mark, I agree with Hawg. Learning how to kill a deer at first is the most important. I hunted for several years before I took my first buck, but that gave me the chance to get a few does, and learn HOW to kill a deer. Just remember, ANY deer with a bow is a trophy and a true accomplishment. As far as ageing a deer, the middle aged ones are the hardest to age on the hoof. Young deer just look young; big ears, thinner bodies, nice and sleek, and a lighter coat. Old deer usually have sagging backs and bellies, some grey around the muzzle, and a bit more grey in the coat. Those mid age deer are kind of a cross between the two. Other than antler size and pattern on bucks, the general rule I follow is, the darker or more grey in the coat, the older the deer. The lighter and more reddish brown in the coat, the younger it is. Coats change color during the seasons, but they all tend to change about the same amount in my experience. One other word of advice I can give, if it's a buck coming in, once you have made the decision that you want to take him, NEVER look at the rack again until he's on the ground. Make your decision, and stick with it once you know you are happy with that buck. Checking the rack again is what I think is the biggest cause of "buck fever". People tend to want one last look at the rack right before they shoot, and we all know that you shoot where you look. Once you have gotten the shot off, sit down, cause the nerves will start coming unfrazzled. lol That being said, nothing tastes better than a yearling doe. lol

Destroyer
09-04-2011, 01:34 AM
Just remember, ANY deer with a bow is a trophy and a true accomplishment.

Dam straight!. ;)

Ford
09-04-2011, 05:32 PM
Buck I go by spread and amount of points. buck are much easier to decide to take or not. I dont age buck to figure out if they are 5 and at their prime. I decide the smallest amount of points I want to shoot and go from there. Pa helps you with that regulating 3 points to one side is a legal buck.
Doe are much harder, and I find that to be my biggest struggle, and leads to my only deer hunting regrets. While I love to hunt, and I love to eat venison, it bothers me to shoot a button buck or a really small doe. The button buck is killing a trophy buck for your next fews years of hunting, and it drives me nuts to kill one. With that said I've found the best way to age a doe if its by itself, is look at its snout. If its long and slender, and their ears are big, they are usually big enough to shoot. You also look at body size but that can be hard from a stand if they are alone. In the northeast it gets cold and frosty, and little doe and button buck tend to get really furry teddy bear looking faces. Also have a short snout and smaller ears. I've tried everything to size up a doe, and the most reliable I have found is the snout and fuzziness.

MLN1963
09-05-2011, 08:23 AM
Thanks for all the info guys. I know it will be hard when the day comes and there is actually a deer in shooting range. The best laid plans could go to hell in a hand basket quickly.

Destroyer
09-05-2011, 03:50 PM
It will go fine, just pick your shots. I would be happy with any buck that had antlers regardless of size, to me its more important to have made a good clean kill.

And we want pictures so remember the camera lol! ;)