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Advantages of Hunting Mature Animals Instead of Yearlings

When you see a buck, it’s easy to get excited and take aim. But your hunting goal shouldn’t be to get just any buck. You and the deer herd will both benefit when you hunt mature animals rather than yearlings.

For most any species, a healthy balanced population has members of all ages. Therefore the presence of mature bucks indicates a healthier herd living in an environment that can support the species to maturity. The animals are breeding successfully and finding enough food to achieve complete lifespans.

Allowing whitetail deer a chance to reach full size gives them a chance to prove the quality of their genetics in the wild by surviving. This creates a robust breeding population with strong traits.

Hunters across the country have been gradually reducing the number of yearlings harvested. A mix of better wisdom among hunters and Antler Point Restrictions enforced by some states has increased the percentage of mature bucks harvested in recent years as reported at the Whitetail 365 blog at Field & Stream.

Hunting mature animals allows the younger population to continue growing. When hunters take too many young animals, fewer animals are left to reach maturity. This is the same reason that you throw back small fish. They need to keep growing and reach breeding age to sustain a viable population.

Also consider that if harsh droughts or winters strike a population with few yearlings and the older ones die, a bad dip in herd size will result.

What Is Maturity for a Whitetail Buck?

The Quality Deer Management Association declares that whitetail bucks reach their full size for the species between 4-1/2 and 6-1/2 years. The potential to grow wide racks of antlers with more points arises at these ages.

When you seek mature game, these are the advantages to you as a hunter:

  • You’ll strengthen your hunting skills. The mature trophy bucks are generally harder to find. They didn’t reach their age by ignoring threats. They are sneaky and you aren’t the first hunter they’ve avoided.
  • When your hunt is successful, you’ll have a fine specimen to brag about. A mature buck is more heavily muscled with a big rack. This magnificent deer will be a true trophy. Yearlings and younger bucks just aren’t going to give you the same prize.

For the most rewarding hunt, seek out the mature animals. Leave the younger ones and let them grow to have their day in the sun.