How to Grow Big Bucks Texas Style
How to Judge the Buck’s Age by Studying Him
Note: Today, the concept of trophy-deer management or
quality-deer management is learned from how deer are
managed in Texas. To raise trophy deer like Texans
do on the land you hunt, you’ll need a lot of
money, plenty of land and numbers of trophy deer. This
week, we’ll take a look at Texas deer management,
where I hunted with Trijicon, a company that provides
aiming solutions for hunters, law enforcement and the
military with its various rifle scopes. Trijicon is
supporter of the Wounded Warrior Project (http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org),
giving a portion of each sale of Trijicon to this organization.
When we returned to the Duval County Ranch in Duval
County, Texas, my guide, Douglas Kubetka, reviewed the
video of the bucks I didn’t take with the ranch
manager, David Kitner. Kitner agreed with Kubetka that
the other buck I wanted to take was probably 4-1/2-
to 5-years old and would have been a trophy buck. I
asked Kubetka how he looked at a deer and not only determined
what the deer’s antlers would score, but the age
of the deer. Kubetka said, “The first thing you
look at when trying to determine the deer’s age
is the deer’s body. Is it block-shaped or long?
A block-shaped deer will be older than a long deer.
An older deer’s neck will be joined to its body
right at the brisket. On a young deer, you can definitely
see its neck. An older deer’s head looks like
it comes out of his shoulders with very little neck.
A young buck’s hind legs are long and spindly,
resembling a race horse. A young buck will probably
be less than 4-1/2-years old. If all four legs look
like they’re about the same size, you can assume
you’re looking at a 4-1/2-year old or older buck.
you look at the deer’s eyes, and they appear elongated
or slant-eyed, then you’re looking at a 4-1/2-year
old or older buck. A younger buck will appear to have
eyes. The hardest age to really pin down is a 4-1/2-
or a 5-1/2-year-old buck because bucks look very similar
at that age. You usually can tell the difference between
a buck less than 4-1/2-years old or a buck over 5-1/2-years
old, because older deer have a pot gut and somewhat
of a swayed back. Also, older bucks don’t look
as streamlined as 1-1/2- and 2-1/2-year old bucks do.
“Besides feeding minerals and corn to our deer,
our soil has a lot of calcium and minerals in it, which
is why we can grow so many deer with big antlers here.
We keep the population down by harvesting does and taking
a certain number of management deer every year. Also,
we mow cinderos, a wide strip of mowed land that looks
much like a power line right-of-way. To age deer correctly,
you have to be able to see and study the deer. If a
buck is in the grass, many times you can’t see
all the key factors required for aging that deer correctly.
Our management program is quite expensive.” Kubetka
only guides about 10 to 12 hunters per season.
For more information about the Duval County Ranch,
call (361) 394-6313, email DCR@wildblue.net.
To learn more about Trijicon, go to www.trijicon.com.
Tomorrow: How We Have Monster Bucks with David Kitner