I hate clickbait headlines as much as you do, but I’m not above using them to get you to read this blog. Don’t worry, I won’t disappoint: I’m definitely going to show you some whitetail bucks that have not aged well, and there’s a serious point to be made with this collection of photos. When you base your trigger decisions on antlers instead of age, you can make some big mistakes.
Mistake 1: Killing very young bucks with great antlers.
No matter where you hunt, every age group of bucks will display a range of antler potential, with the majority being average for their age and location, but with a few being well above and well below that average. This means a few uncommon but outstanding yearling bucks could achieve the antler points, inside spread or gross score necessary to get the green-light under your antler-based criteria. If any antlered buck makes you happy, that’s no problem. But if you are trying to develop buck age structure, shooting the valedictorians of the yearling age-class is a big mistake.
Mistake 2: Not killing mature bucks with small antlers.
These bucks might have had below-average antlers their whole lives and never met your antler criteria at all, or they are so old that their antler quality has declined to a point below your standards. Either way, this represents a waste of recreational opportunity, which has an impact on hunter satisfaction. Someone could be enjoying the hunt, the harvest and the venison with these bucks – not to mention a trophy jawbone that shows this was an adult or maybe even extremely rare, old buck.
This is not about the “G-word,” so don’t even go there. You can’t measurably change the G-word in wild deer, not even when you take large-antlered bucks as yearlings or leave small-antlered bucks in the woods for years. This is about having fun and getting recreational enjoyment out of your QDM efforts.
How do you avoid these mistakes? Learn to make your harvest decisions based on age, which is what QDMA recommends. Set a minimum buck age goal that suits your experience level, and work your way up from there. However, the bucks I’m about to show you should be eligible on any deer hunter’s list. They show all the body characteristics that point to a deer that is ready for the rocking chair. They might have been crazy hot when they were younger, but it’s time they retire the mankini.
I dug deep into the “Age This!” files contributed by QDMA members over the years to find these moldy oldies. So, click on any image in the gallery below to start your tour of whitetails that have seen better days. They probably didn’t get to be senior citizens by parading around in daylight, so it may not be easy to kill bucks like these, but if you get the chance, take it.