Have you been watching a particular buck on your property for several years and wondering if he’s ripe for the picking? This is the time of year when trail cameras begin to reveal if any of your old whitetail friends have returned to taunt and possibly haunt you this upcoming season. If you’re lucky enough, you may have passed on a particular buck for a season or two. Don’t wait too long.

The main reason to lean toward harvesting a particular buck is the fact deer have a free will. They roam and during the rut that roaming could get them in trouble on the neighbor’s property. Unless you own enough real estate to grab Ted Turner’s attention, it is questionable if you can hold a whitetail on an average-sized property. During the rut bucks occasionally wander and get themselves into trouble.

Here’s another major factor to take advantage of a good looking buck. He might not get any bigger. While talking with Dr. Grant Woods recently about whitetails he stressed this exact point. Woods, a wildlife biologist with 21 years of wildlife management consulting experience, stressed that at 3 ½ years of age a whitetail buck is already expressing 75 percent of its antler growth when it sheds its velvet. Even more interesting is the fact that at 4½ years of age a whitetail buck is at 90 percent of its antler potential. And he made this important note.

“Although there are exceptions, in most cases these percentages hold true,” says Woods. “Are you willing to pass up a 150-inch, 4 ½-year-old buck for the opportunity to see 10 percent more growth next year? Remember, you may never see that buck again.”

Next time you’re pondering whether you should shoot or pass, estimate the age of the buck before you. If he’s a 4 ½-year-old you might want to quit pondering and get to shooting.

For more insight on whitetails and wildlife management visit Woods’ new website with updated management videos posted weekly.