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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had this deer inside 25 yards last Friday evening after grunting him in from about 200 yards away. It was a cool encounter, and I got a chance to take a good look at him as he approached and as he stood within range looking for the source of the grunts. I field judged him at 3 years old and 125"-130" and decided to pass. He's a clean mainframe 8, with pretty good height and mass, but inside the ears. He's certainly the biggest buck I've let walk, but it was the first day I'd ever hunted this farm and had already seen two bigger...including a heart pounding encounter with Dish's ancient buck that morning. I know, first world problems.

Plant Plant community Beak Phasianidae Galliformes


Plant Twig Beak Terrestrial plant Terrestrial animal


Plant community Plant Boar Grass Terrestrial animal


I was confident in my judgement and decision until I looked at pics off a cell cam card that night and realized he was this deer. A deer I thought was at least 4 based on this pic.
Plant Natural environment Natural landscape Water Vegetation


The second image that didn't come through to my phone was the giveaway that it's the same deer.
Plant Natural environment Natural landscape Branch Wood


So, what says the group? Solid 3 year old...or did I misjudge?
 

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I feel like my initial gut reaction on the stand is the most important. If I have to convince myself he’s a shooter then he probably isn’t the deer for me. Plus certain trail cam pics of the same deer can make them look like a different age class depending on angle, time of year etc. He looks like he’s 3 to me and a good one at that. Could probably also argue he looks like a 4 year old in the trail cam photos. Regardless he’s a great deer. Good luck in whatever you decide.
 

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I'm going with a 3 yr old with a big body. If he's 4 then he will probably look like that next year and you can take him out.

Your area and food sources would make me think differently but that's my guess.
 

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FWIW, I saw one of those famous deer doctors say that only mature bucks get a real dark skull cap. Not all old bucks have them, but bucks that do have them are all mature, I'm guessing they meant 4.5+. I kinda thought it was b.s. but I've really looked for it since then and seem to find it quite true. Who knows, I'm just passing on what I heard and this buck definitely has that distinctive dark skull cap. Personally I would have just collected his jaw bone to try and find out but I don't have moose running around either!
 

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I'm no expert , but will go with your first guess.
When one gets you fired up for size pop it. Then age it.
Pictures can be tough to guess from.. Heck ,in the field can be. Your's are hock deep in cover. How leggy are they really?
The neck on yours looks better than one I guessed as being older. But ...Other things looked different too.
 

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You guys should pass all bucks except dish's.. Nice pass by the way and hope your rewarded for it
First of all. It's not my buck. Secondly, that's terrible advice. Better advice would be to hunt as hard as possible and adopt a "it's brown, it's down" approach until all tags are filled. You should always learn how deer react to pressure on new property. :sneaky:
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I would age this one for a good two weeks and still probably grind most of it.
I stopped eating bucks a few years ago, other than my son's youth season buck last year, because it was early and he wanted to eat it. Does go in the freezer, bucks go to the food pantry.
 
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