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nofishfisherman

Estimating Age of Bucks

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How do you guys estimate the age of bucks you see in the field?  Anything special you look for as a clear giveaway?  Young bucks normally aren't too tough but once they get to 3 1/2 it can be a little tougher.

Here is the big guy from my trail cam this year.  We can use it for discussion purposes.  I've got a guess on age but lets here what you guys think for age and what is the giveaway for you.  Also you can't see both sides of the rack in this picture but he's fairly symmetrical however he's missing a point on the other side making him a 9.  I do have other pictures of him but not digital ones.

 20160923_202644.jpg

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It wll depend some on farmland buck or northwoods brush eating buck. 1.5 easy, 2.5 fairly easy, 3.5 and older a much tougher buck to age. Used to send our jaws to Madelia,MN for aging and or we were lucky at the old Gene's Standard gas station in New York Mills MN as in the 80's and early 90's there was a guy from the DNR there aging them for us, the drawback was if you wanted to headmount they seemed to cut up the cheek to check the teeth or tooth that like a ring on a tree told him the age. I'd guess 4.5 year old in the picture but does mild winters and genetics play a part, I'd think so.

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The buck in the picture is from private land not far from Duluth.  Not much ag land in the area.  The propertyI'm hunting has a lot of apple trees and thats what he's after in this picture.  Not a lot of oaks/acorns from what I can see, not sure what all the other properties have for food.  This is my first year hunting this land so my scouting hasn't been super extensive yet.

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I don't think you need to do much scouting lol, that one in the picture is all you need to know however many people are getting giants on trailcam NOW, that they won't get come November. Are you bowhunting ? I'd assume maybe posting this in the archery forum and I'd assume my stand would be in appleville for now, one stand on each end, I'd try to figure the bedding area he or other nice bucks tend to use and then play the wind 100% of the time. Hunt weather changes types of days and if you have the chance I'd hunt as much as possible the 7 days before rifle opens, by then you should see ground scrapes in that area, I wouldn't hesitate to hunt 25 yards from the biggest freshest scrape you find come later October/first 4 days of November you could see him or another at high noon etc. 2 o'clock etc. they cruise daylight hours heavy then because they've already smelled or bred their first doe of the year and the woods are usually left quiet for rifle season so they travel like crazy.

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I'll be bow hunting this spot next weekend, fri-sun and then possibly additional days depending on how things go and how much time I can get away from the wife and kids.

My main stand is near a clearing that has 3 trails converging into one main trail that leads to appleville.  There is one crab apple tree at the end of the clearing exactly 20 yards from my stand.  The other apples they are eating are in the yard at the house on the property so hunting over them is off limits so I've got to hunt them in route to those trees. This photo was taken at the end of the trail that goes by my main stand putting him 20 yards broadside from my stand at about 6:30pm on the day the photo was taken.  I do have secondary stands locations to play different wind conditions and I do have a ground blind that I can set up if I need to make on the fly adjustments for wind conditions. 

Hard part is this is a city hunt with an earn a buck rule so I've got to get a doe on the ground as fast as possible so that I can focus on a big boy the rest of the season.

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Right on and best of luck! Sounds like a cool area to try but how does a guy pass up that giant if he shows and presents a shot if you got no doe down ? Get that doe down quick !

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Well fortunately I never had to let him walk as I never saw him.  We don't have him on cam over the last week or two but based on the size of some tracks I found elsewhere I suspect he's still in the area. We do have 4 other smaller bucks on cam but a 6 pointer is the biggest we saw this week.

I hunted hard all weekend but Friday was pretty much a waste as the winds were blowing sustained at 20 with gusts over 30.  It made for a really fun ride in my tree all day but made hunting really tough and really cold.  Saturday I moved to a different spot with better wind conditions and I did have the big doe I wanted come in to my blind.  However, she came in from an unexpected direction.  I couldn't even see her until she was 10 feet away because she was behind some brush I was using as a back drop.  She never really knew I was there but knew something wasn't right.  I got my bow to about half draw and she opted to turn around and walk back where she came from, no big alarm or snort so I think its safe to say she wasn't sure what was up but knew she didn't like something.  

I positioned myself in a different spot later in the morning to hunt another well worn trail along with another secondary trail but didn't get any more visitors.  I ended up not being able to hunt Sunday so I'll need to find more time to go out there and give it another try.  Still a lot of apples on the trees and a lot of activity in general. 

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This is what it's like where I hunt,

Buck fawn - really easy, they have a milk mustache

1 1/2 year old - anything with antlers

2 1/2 year old  - very rare usually travel with a unicorn and the Easter bunny, and can fly

Anything older - and you're not in Minnesota anymore.......

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Many of the things I have seen or read.... focus on the nose, belly and back...   I'd say your buck is 3 1/2... which in many parts of MN is rare as many folks are eluding to... get a swaying back a they are usually older.... it is really tough to tell as not very many opportunities allow you lots of time to age a deer on stand.... but having a bunch of trail cam pics at different angles sure improves your chances of knowing.

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What Bear55 said, at 3.5 you better pray for a hot doe, in my swamp they lay up on root clumps made by tamaracs, good luck wading through thigh deep mud and water to sorta go after him, he isn't budging until complete darkness once he knows the pressure is on. He might bed on that same clump the whole season, he isn't just running around aimlessly in shooting light, they'll forego the doe search until blackness. 

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4 hours ago, O.T.C. said:

good luck wading through thigh deep mud and water to sorta go after him, he isn't budging until complete darkness once he knows the pressure is on.

I've pulled a couple out of he11 holes like that, you sometimes have to be willing to go to stupid lengths and get into places most people are not willing to go to get an arrow in them.

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Agree Bear 100% my stands are in these ratholes, you must pay your do's, fill your boots, and put in the time when the wind is right. It takes time in the Winter also (frozen) up to do what you can to increase the odds for the following year. These beasts so rarely make a daylight mistake at least my decades of trailcam pics 95% are not in legal light whatsoever even out of season. Once the bugs freeze out in those ratholes go the mature boys. 

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Yup, they do move but just not very far, sometimes you have to setup right on top of them. Not an easy task, I probably blow more out of their beds than I see that is for sure.

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