Tips for Judging Deer on the Hoof

Deer Body Size Will Fool You Every Time!

When my hunters arrive in northern Alberta for the first time, we always have the discussion about deer body size. My conversation with David Byrd was no different, however I suppose I should listen to my own advice on deer body size. Here is how the hunt went down. David had booked a combo mule deer/whitetail hunt with me, after discussion about the great success we have been having on whitetail in early September. I had mentioned that just like the muleys are in bachelor groups, so are the whitetail.

These deer are not in the rut or even remotely interested in does, but are on basic bedding and feeding patterns. During our pre season scouting, we were noticing groups of bucks comfortably feeding for hours in the lush crops and returning back to their bedding area. At this time year, there is virtually no hunting pressure, long hunting days, and very mild comfortable weather.

​In this one particular field, we had a good concentration of whitetail activity. Not long after I put up some trail cameras, we got a pic of a really nice mature straight up ten with some extras.

​David’s preference was to get a mule deer first then go after a whitetail. It wasn’t long before we found a muley that he was happy with, and after a successful mile long stalk David shot his first Alberta muley.

We now had four days left of a six day hunt to go after a trophy whitetail. Naturally, my first plan was to set up on that big ten we had on camera. Our strategy, was to put David in a ground blind close to all the action, I placed myself over half a mile away where I could glass the entire field. With forty five minutes to go before dark, a mature, square bodied buck stepped out of the brush line and into the field, paying no attention to the ground blind. I immediately radioed David to make sure he saw the buck that was three hundred yards to his left. I now had the buck dialed in on my spotting scope from over half a mile away, when David asked me what I thought of the buck. I replied “he is decent, but his rack looks smallish from this distance, what do you think?”, David replied “I like him”. I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, but as I watched the buck hit the dirt, and seconds later I heard the report of the rifle, I realized that he made up his mind.

Dr. David Stark 160 B&C

​The buck scored 178 B&C and weighed an impressive 385 lbs. We could hardly move this buck, let alone load it into the back of the pickup, a true mature trophy Alberta whitetail.

​This was the classic story of how the bodies on our large Canadian husky whitetails will fool many hunters making the rack appear smaller. Notice the mass on the buck; he carries his weight throughout his entire rack. This is why I love hunting these bucks in September.

by Mike White

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