There are a lot of different things when you go trophy whitetail hunting. If you’re inexperienced, you probably won’t be able to differentiate a good trophy from a bad one.
There are a lot of things you need to consider when making this assessment. Of course, the fact that some people have a different opinion doesn’t help.
As you can presume, size is an important thing when calculating a whitetail trophy. However, there are some other things involved, as well.
In this article, we’ll talk about trophy whitetail hunts basics and how to score your deer.
Size of a whitetail deer
Size is the first and most important thing when talking about any kind of trophy animal. It is the traditional method of measuring a catch, which is also crucial for whitetails.
Over time, this standard has changed a bit. Nowadays, there are a lot of hunting preserves where you can hunt well-fed animals.
These whitetails are usually much bigger than those found in nature. This also changes our expectations and measures.
When measuring the size of a deer, there is a scoring system that you need to follow. Based on the overall number of points, you will know whether this whitetail trophy is really as good as you thought it was.
The oldest technique is based on the antler size and the number of points it has. In fact, the number of points was the most important score back in the day.
Over time, this system has changed significantly, and now, people also measure things like tine length, mass, and symmetry.
Nevertheless, you should still catch whitetails that have at least 10 points. This is the best sign that the animal is mature enough to be called a trophy.
According to the experts, it takes at least 5 to 6 years for a whitetail to reach its maximum potential. This is precisely why a lot of outfitters have policies when it comes to what you can and what you cannot hunt.
Most veteran hunters would avoid young bucks anyway.
Trophy Whitetail Hunts: Maturity
As you could’ve presumed based on the previous section, maturity is also very important when assigning a score. There are several reasons for this.
We’ve also mentioned that the younger whitetails will have fewer points, which would immediately reduce their overall scores. Their antlers also mature in terms of tines and the main beam. But this isn’t the only reason.
Older bucks are much more cunning than their young counterparts. They are much more aware of their surroundings and present a more difficult target.
If they lived on a larger hunting ground for a long time, there is a good chance they’ve got used to hunters and started recognizing them as a threat. Because of that, hunting an older whitetail deer is much harder but also much more rewarding both in terms of experience and the potential trophy.
Nowadays, a lot of outfitters have access to great hunting grounds where the number of whitetail deer is regulated. Among others, this might also mean that there are certain older deer that have survived a lot of hunting attempts.
They would be prime catches. These beautiful animals are used to their surroundings, can smell you in the wind, and are even aware of the trees.
Here are five of the directions that would help you score and assess a deer based on its age:
It is a real shame if you would hunt fawns. Not only would they be a bad trophy, but they also wouldn’t have an opportunity to live a longer life and reproduce. This would also pose a problem for the ecosystem causing future issues for the hunters as well.
5 to 2.5 years
A lot of hunters go for animals from this age group. Their meat is pretty awesome, but it is less than ideal if you’re a trophy whitetail hunter. So, it is much better to pass on the opportunity to kill such an animal. You can recognize them based on their smaller shoulders, neck, and slimmer figure.
5 to 4.5 years
Animals that belong to this group are a bit thicker than the previous ones. You might even notice a bit of a difference in terms of their belly size. On top of that, their chests are a bit filled; they breed with does, but they still need some more to go until they reach their optimal size. Deer from this age group are recognized as trophy whitetails. However, you would have to hunt them with a bow instead of firearms.
5 to 6.5 years
This is the group you need to seek out. These are mature whitetails at their best age. All of their attributes are at their maximum; they will be much heavier, with big antlers, and a lot of strength. Whitetails that have about 6 years are also more cunning and experienced. It is very challenging to hunt these animals, which is why they make for such amazing whitetail trophies.
Any whitetail deer that is 7.5 years and older is regarded as an elderly deer. In terms of their experience and prowess, they are probably the hardest ones to catch. In the end, they managed to survive during all these years. Still, they’ve also passed their prime, which makes it easier to hunt them based on endurance alone. Their antlers are completely developed, and they don’t have as much strength as the previous whitetail age group. If you’re hunting a deer on a special whitetail property, there is a low chance you will even see one of these whitetails. Even though their physical characteristics are not optimal, they represent a nice trophy due to their majesty and rarity. Experienced hunters have a great deal of respect for these animals due to their ability to survive for all these years.
The overall hunting experience
No matter the trophy whitetail hunts, we always have to focus on animals as the major factors determining the score.
The size and maturity of an animal is always the first thing that people notice, and it makes sense this would be the starting point to determine the quality of a trophy. But, there is another exterior factor that we need to consider: the hunting experience itself.
When talking about the experience, it mostly pertains to the hunting difficulty. Trophies that are really hard to catch should be valued above others. For example, if the same deer managed to elude you time and time again, this hunt should value higher.
Such occasions are also a good barometer of your hunting skill. If you need someone to attest to this feat, you can always go with your whitetail outfitter or other people who were present during the hunt.
Now, this might sound like a cop-out and misrepresentation of the information. But in the end, it all comes down to our personal experience and how we perceived it.
Even if you don’t get an award for this, you should still value the trophy more. If we’re not satisfied with the trophy whitetail hunts, there is no point in doing them, right?