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Test your aging skills! Updated with expert opinions!!

This is one of my pictures from a few years ago that the QDMA used in their magazine for the Age This section. 5 guys that should know a little about aging deer have already guessed, so lets see what ya'll think. This is post rut in N Ms.

This is him the following summer.

And here is the original picture.

What the Experts Say:

•Panelist A • 3 1/2 • "He has decent swelling in his neck (larger than a 2 1/2 but not as much as a 4 1/2+ year old). He has a tight back and stomach, thin waist and a full, muscular chest - all characteristics of 3 1/2. At 4 1/2 his stomach wouldn't be as tight. His legs appear to be the right length for his body, he has a dip in front of his rear leg and small hind quarters - all characteristics of 3 1/2."

•Panelist B • 4 1/2 • "The Mississippi buck appears to be 4 1/2. However, some characteristics appear to be younger, especially his hams. His rump still displays the downward slope of a younger buck. Often field-judging a buck's age is a matter of going with the preponderance of evidence. This buck displays the typical large neck flowing directly into the brisket with little definition of a 4 1/2-year-old buck. He also has the deep, buffalo-like chest and the lack of waist-line typical of a 4 1/2-year-old. The preponderance of evidence is 4 1/2."

•Panelist C • 3 1/2 • "Nice muscle tone, flat back and tight belly. He doesn't have a Roman nose and is lacking in mass, although he does have nice main beams. He looks like a college boy looking for trouble! At 2 1/2 his legs would look too long for his body. At 4 1/2 he would be a bit stockier with better mass on the antlers."

•Panelist D • 3 1/2 • "Possibly 4 1/2. Beam length was the first indicator this buck is 3 1/2+ years old because they extend almost to his nose. I would estimate the beam length at 18+ inches which would suggest he is not 2 1/2. This characteristic alone is not enough to age him, though, but is used in conjunction with others, such as: chest deeper than waist, neck filling out. Very stained tarsal glands suggest he is actively involved in breeding, typical of 3 1/2+ bucks under a QDM program. He appears to be relatively muscular in the shoulders and has a sleek appearance. At 2 1/2 his chest would not be this deep and at 4 1/2 he would have a flatter stomach area."

•Panelist E • 3 1/2 • "I have observed thousands of photos of Mississippi bucks, and I did a double take on this guy. It appears as though he has a chin flap, a characteristic of 6 1/2 plus. Perhaps this guy had a mouth full of food, because he is not 6 1/2! This goes to show that you must train your eye to look for multiple characteristics. At 1 1/2 and 2 1/2, a buck's muscle tone in the shoulders, neck and hindquarters is underdeveloped. This buck is just beginning to show some cuts and definition, like a sophomore in High School. At 5 1/2 and 6 1/2, bucks look like real studs as the chest, shoulders and neck appear to be one big mass. Another important observation is his waistline is not quite as deep as his chest. That tip alone will I.D. him as a 3 1/2 and not a 4 1/2 yet. A 4 1/2-year-old's waist line will droop down to or close to the chest."

In Conclusion: As you can see, aging bucks in photographs requires you to consider and weigh many factors and make decisions based on the preponderance of evidence. To improve your own accuracy with local deer, gather as much data as you can from harvested bucks, including the girth of the neck, chest and stomach and antler measurements like mass and beam length. Correlate this information to the buck's age based on the jawbone, and then, over time, develop age-class standards for the physical parameters of your region's deer. Also, refer back to live photos of harvested bucks once you have estimated a jawbone age to help sharpen your abilities for the next new photograph.

Camera-Aging Panel: Special thanks to our panel members, who include wildlife consultants Bryan Kinkel of Tennessee, Jason Snavely of Droptine Wildlife Consulting in Pennsylvania, Dave Edwards of Westervelt Wildlife Services in Alabama, Chris Pevey of Illinois and QDMA's Education & Outreach Director in the North, Kip Adams of Pennsylvania.

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