What Does a Buck Look Like?

Estimating an accurate age estimate on whitetail bucks can be challenging at any time of year, but summer poses special difficulties due to many body characteristics that indicate maturity (such as a swollen neck and chest or stained tarsal glands) not appearing until fall.

A button buck has several knots where his antlers will eventually grow, providing hunters with a chance to observe and avoid shooting young deer.


The head (cephalic cranium) is the uppermost portion of the skull that houses the brain and contains all its organs for sight and smell as well as anchoring muscles that support body uphold, helping form vocalizations, as well as providing structure for facial expressions and providing structure to facial features like the sphene, occipital and frontal bones attached to facial features and expressions; some bones such as mandible are attached directly to jaw bones for added strength anchorage and provide structure within. Its flat structure allows it to function flawlessly while making up one whole entity that supports other areas within cranium.

Ears are an indispensable indicator for hunters in determining the age class of deer, with button bucks typically having short ears while mature ones typically feature long ones that reach nearly to the main beam of antlers.

A buck’s nose features large nostril openings to allow him to take in air and detect the pheromones released during estrus by doe’s. These scents then travel through his nose into his bloodstream before reaching an olfactory nerve which signals to the brain that she is in estrus.

During the rut, you can often witness this signaling behavior at scrapes. A buck rubs trees to mark his territory, leaving saliva scent marks and urine behind as he does so. He may lick his rub area for additional scent or may lick overhanging branches at a scrape to leave his frontal glands fragrant with scent from these activities.

An effective way of recognizing a buck is through his eye circumference and distance between it and his first tarsal gland (G1). While doe eyes tend to be round and close together, those of males typically feature longer and farther apart eyes with darker-stained glands than surrounding structures such as their antler shafts and eyes.


Bucks can be easily distinguished from doe by their long, slender bodies. When compared with doe bodies, their neck appears more elongated and narrower, and body weight distribution shifted more heavily toward their rear end; their back line from rump to shoulders does not sag; belly lines tight; they also feature relatively shorter legs than their counterparts, with moderately stained tarsal glands on either side of their torsos/thighs.

Buck antler growth tends to be more widely spread-out than that of doe, reaching 10 points at their maximum; more typically it ranges between six and ten. Furthermore, bucks often develop two tines on each main beam for further antler spreading and multiplication.

At around six months of age, button bucks develop one or more “pedicles”, or knots where antlers will eventually grow. Unlike doe heads which feature rounded ears and foreheads, button buck’s have flat surfaces between their ears and at their foreheads for easier antler growth.

As soon as a deer hunter spots a buck, they must determine whether it is shootable. Key indicators for making that determination include size and age as well as aggression levels; an aggressive buck typically has squared off body with its tail tightly against its rump when walking; in contrast, doe bodies tend to have rounder bodies with raised tails and are less aware of their surroundings than male deer.

In the fall, testosterone levels reach their peak and bucks begin searching for estrous doe to mate with. To do this, they roam their home range pawing the ground and leaving scent marks. Rubs are created when scraping with antlers leaves bits of bark behind that stimulate preorbital glands to release bruxismo pheromone.

Summer bucks can be difficult to identify using only physical characteristics alone, due to maturing features like swollen neck and chest or stained tarsal glands not becoming visible until autumn arrives.


Antlers (commonly referred to as tines or racks in slang) are one of the key identifiers of male deer. Constructed entirely from bone, antlers grow and shed annually as an outgrowth from frontal bones that comprise their forehead and nose area – only occurring among male deer species such as deer and antelope species.

Antlers begin life as soft, flexible sleeve of bone that are lined with dense hair-like covering known as velvet, which contains blood vessels and nerves. Antler growth resembles building skyscrapers: first the frame must be put in place; then the concrete can be poured. Over time antlers ossify, changing from soft, spongy bone into hard lamellar bone due to hormonal and environmental changes; at their peak growth they grow 10 centimeters (3.9 in) per day during peak growth periods.

As they develop, antlers undergo considerable strain, with any breaks compromising their performance and negatively affecting its growth. While antlers can be strong and rigid, they are still highly vulnerable to bending or twisting forces – this explains why bucks shot prior to antler casting often have looser or thinner antlers than normal.

Antlers can be damaged by numerous causes, from infection and parasites to injuries of the antler itself causing deformities like drop tines, kickers or palmated antlers. Such abnormalities could be the result of damage to an antler pedicle — a bone attached to the skull that supports growth — but can also result from hormonal abnormalities like hypogonadism or cryptochidism, where low testosterone production leads to antler resorption.

Antler size and complexity in bucks is closely correlated to their age and nutrition; however, genetics has also been demonstrated as being an influential factor. Antler morphology is most strongly determined by gene expression; therefore a deer with specific genetic characteristics will have antlers which reflect those qualities.


Whitetail deer have an interesting tail that provides us with insight into their age. In summertime, its coloring ranges from tannish or reddish brown to grayish-brown in winter; additionally it sports an underside circular white patch. Wags from their tail indicate excitement or aggression and serve as a warning signal against predators who might threaten females and young.

As a buck develops, his tail will expand as does its white patch on its underside, becoming less obvious over time. At that same point, his rump will begin to increase its size. When breeding season arrives, however, they become extremely active, spending much of their day looking out for estrous does to breed with. When one finally appears, their tail wags vigorously!

With high-quality trail camera photos of deer, it is possible to make fairly accurate estimates of its age using various features. One such reference point is measuring from ear tip to ear tip – a method which can help estimate its spread but requires frontal views as it could be affected by angle of viewing.

An essential landmark is the tarsal gland, a pad of stiff hairs found at each deer’s rear leg. While all deers possess these glands, older bucks tend to develop darker stained tarsal glands than younger deers.

Figuring out a buck’s age can be challenging, but thanks to recent advancements in trail camera technology it has become much simpler. By paying close attention to details like body structure, head and antler characteristics hunters can confidently tell whether he or she is male or female deer.

Bucks can be easily identified in the fall and winter by their impressive set of antlers (called tines), but subtler characteristics can also help determine their age during summer months – this article will examine some of these useful identifiers.

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