What a difference a year can make! In my neck of the woods, last year was dry, deer forage was low, and deer were in “average” condition. But this year, abundant rains provided a plethora of white-tailed deer food and put individual deer and the deer herd as a whole in great condition. Here is another example of how a year can make a difference – in the life of a buck. Last year (2006), I took pictures of a 3 1/2 year old 8-point buck while hunting one morning. The white-tailed buck wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, so I let the deer go in hopes of seeing something even larger. As it turns out, I only saw the buck that one time, but managed “shoot” him several times and got some great photos as seen below. But guess what? He’s back!
As luck would have it, I saw the same buck again just this past weekend, almost one year to the date (2007). I’m sure it’s him because his right antler is still slightly taller than the left. However, he went from an 8-point to a 9-point and showed noticable gains in both antler mass and antler spread. I figured this was a good chance to show exactly what can happen with an additional year, allowing the buck to go from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years old.
Of course, he’s the whitetail buck on the left in the bottom photo, but compare the others down there to those from last year and you will notice a marked difference. The buck on the right is a younger 8-point, but I am already interested in seeing what he looks like next year! Remember, it takes three things for a buck to get big: age, genetics, and nutrition!