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Manage at a Higher Level - Maximize your Aging and Judging Skills

By: QDMA Staff

Arguably one of the most important skills for any hunter who undertakes quality deer management (QDM) is the ability to accurately assess the age and antler quality of a live whitetail buck in a hunting situation. Making an accurate judgement can help you avoid shooting a younger buck that has not yet reached its full potential. The trouble is, bucks older than yearlings seldom stand in the clear long enough to give you a complete look at all their features. In reality, judgement calls must be made quickly and in pressured situations. Other than many years of experience, how can hunters better prepare themselves for this crucial moment?

A new book, Observing & Evaluating Whitetails, can help you learn to make these calls with precision. Acclaimed whitetail photographer Dave Richards and renowned deer biologist Al Brothers joined their skills to produce this amazing book showcasing some of the most impressive whitetail photography ever assembled. The book's beauty is only overshadowed by its usefulness. With more than 400 stunning photos, the book teaches readers how to age whitetails using several different characteristics.

Dave Richards has spent years photographing whitetails in south Texas, and he has had the rare pleasure of following and photographing dozens of individual whitetail bucks from yearlings through old age, or until they were harvested by hunters. The results in his book include the following:
Aging Whitetails on the Hoof: Detailed photo spreads of 17 different bucks take you through the physical development of each deer from adolescence through maturity. Discussions of the changes in body conformation help you practice aging using these indicators.

Judging Boone & Crockett Scores on the Hoof: One chapter pairs photo spreads of 27 individual bucks that were harvested or their sheds found so that actual antler measurements and gross scores are known. Practice judging these bucks by looking at the photos, then check your accuracy with the simple "field-judging" score chart provided with each buck.

Aging by Behavior: Learn from both photographs and the authors' experience how to recognize behaviors, movements, postures, and reactions to other deer that can help you confirm your age estimate.

Other special sections of the book by noted whitetail researcher Dr. Larry Marchinton and QDMA executive director Brian Murphy instruct you on aging after harvest and whitetail communication and sensory capabilities. Observing & Evaluating Whitetails retails for $29.99 and is offered in hardbound editions for $39.99. To order call the QDMA at (800) 209-3337 or log on to