Welcome to TheOhioOutdoors
Wanting to join the rest of our members? Login or sign up today!
Login / Join

Is this a young deer?


Junior Member
S.E. Ohio
So I originally posted this trailcam photo from the night before on a Facebook group. I was surprised at every comment saying how young the deer looks and that it still hadn't reach its potential. I'm still not very experienced hunting let alone aging deer.

I deleted the post when some members who were familiar with me began discussing what road I live on to a group of about 60,000 strangers. However I wanted more opinions so I thought I would bring it here

Does this deer look immature and is just a freak of nature or as I personally thought a mature deer?


  • 9b94a7da-687e-4eba-bd11-d8db46fe09c7.jpg
    355.4 KB · Views: 189
  • Like
Reactions: Big_Holla


Junior Member
S.E. Ohio
He doesn’t look that old. 3.5 maybe?

Yeah, FB is the absolute worst place for posting trail cam pictures of live targets IMHO….
I've never had a problem saying what area I'm in, it's not like any of the deer are mine that I can keep to myself. And in this area any hunter in a nearby woodlot could get lucky and you may never see the same deer twice. But when it gets that specific to such a large group of readers it made me uncomfortable


Well-Known Member
Constitution Ohio
Not every deer follows the yearly potential guideline. It’s a difficult life and things happen. We had a couple 4 year old last year that we let go hoping they would come back 150ish or better. Both came back smaller. Some max out at 3, some at 4 some older.
Not all deer grow their bodies at the same rate. Some are short and stocky, others tall and lean. I’m a firm believer in most deer are older than guys think. The only way to know for sure is to have history with them. I don’t even believe looking at their teeth is accurate. I had 4 years of pics of a buck that I believed to be 2 when I first started tracking him. A buddy killed him and had the teeth looked at. They told him it was 3.
To answer your question: it could be 3. I’m saying at least 4.


Junior Member
S.E. Ohio
I originally thought he might have been a large but immature deer that sustained injuries that caused his antlers to take on a lot of freakish character. But this is several years in a row now he has this character.

Do injuries affect the antler growth for only the year after or every year from then on? Or would that tell you it's genetic?


Dignitary Member
Supporting Member
NW Ohio
I would not call that a mature deer. I'd call him 3.5 but it would be nice to see more pics/angles.
Last edited:


Junior Member
S.E. Ohio
Several years in a row. 3 plus one to two with antlers makes him at least 5. If it were me I'd shoot him and have the experts pull a tooth and age him.
Yes last year the first sighting he had the character and this year also. I thought he was the result of a car accident but I also always thought that injury related abnormalities cleared up. Is it a sure way to tell its genetic?

What do you mean by plus one to two years with antlers? Plus one to two based on their size? I agree with you but all the comments threw me off. I couldn't imagine that growth in just several years unless some trauma affected it. I might never get a shot at this deer just trying to become a better judge of it from secondhand stuff.


Staff member
He reminds me of a buck I hunted in 2007-2008. He was a little bodied buck at 4.5, but he had 183" of antler and certainly had 200" genes. The buck I just shot never broke 150", but is in the 1% body wise. Like @Spencie said, not all bucks have the same body type and it makes sense that a buck with a giant rack, would have less resources to pump into his body. Hell, it's a crude example, but a lot of us played sports and have been in a locker room with a tiny dude packing a hog leg, and big dudes who always look cold 😂


*Supporting Member*
Kill him and send his teeth in for cementum annuli aging!

This idea that deer just continue to get bigger and bigger is so played out. According to MSU deer lab, a deer at 3.5 is roughly 85% of their genetic potential, at 4.5 95%, and at 5.5 95+%. There is of course some variability in this due to stresses, nutrition availability, etc. So based on these variables, you may or may not see an increase/decrease in antler size from one year to the next.

Now, let's assume that is a 200inch deer and he is 3.5 years old. Would any hunter be willing to let that deer pass by, in the hopes of him gaining 10-15inch +/- of antler at 4+?

Now before someone jumps me for this post, I know there are anomalies to every scientific finding and some deer make some HUGE jumps. However, most deer are not growing old in perfect habitat, with no stresses, and unlimited nutrition. I know that we have killed 2 5+year old bucks off the farm in the last 5 years, both of which grew but marginally year over year - in what I would say is pretty darn good habitat with acres and acres and acres of food.

To revert back to the start of this post. If you get a chance to kill him, do so.


Active Member
Keene, OH
We just had this discussion with the buck I shot this year. After 2.5 it's just a wild ass guess even with deer aging as the Jawbone age is about 50/50 for actual correct aging.

These trained biologists, with references in hand, categorized only 49% of jawbones correctly (Figure 1).
from this peer reviewed article. https://www.ckwri.tamuk.edu/sites/d...-05/insidedeerresearchnewsletter-fall2010.pdf

If you want to watch a video that explains it a bit further ..... HHHHeeeeerrrrrreeeee'ssss Jeeffff. 😜 He gets to the data at 8:50

Dutton at 2.5

Dutton at 3.5

Bottom line unless you have a high fenced property - somebody will shoot that buck if it walks in front of them. So - Is it a deer you want to kill or not - regardless of how old you may think it is?
  • Like
Reactions: Spencie