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Discussion Starter #1
Antlers or age? Which better represents a PA trophy buck? I'm starting to sense a shift in my mentality, but I'm not certain that I'm 100% ready to embrace it. I used to be one of those guys that didn't believe PA bucks reached old age. Well the longer I continue to play this game the better I'm getting at it from the buck intel side of it. I'm currently monitoring five different properties in two different counties, and four of those properties possess 5 year old bucks or older. (I suspect the 5th property does as well but this is my first year monitoring it.) I never would've believed this a few years ago. None of these bucks possess record book racks. Age and body size are starting to picque my curiosity. Thought for fodder anyway.
 

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I’m hunting all public land and will most likely shoot the first 100 inch deer i get a chance at. The last couple years those chances are far a few between. There are plenty of higher scoring and older deer here though. Putting them in front of me in November is a different story.
 

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I tend to believe that a true PA trophy buck is one that made it to 5+ years... because that's still somewhat a rarity.... regardless of rack size.
But I'm a meat hunter these days... no more room or desire for Trophies.
I agree, Making 5 years in Pa is tough. With all the hunters and road traffic very few make it past 3. We do have a few whoppers. Of course I don't help the cause, If it's legal I'm taking it
 

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Yeah, I'd say age. With a gun, my deer hunting strategy here has always been to shoot the first legal buck I see. My primary goal is to put venison in the freezer. With does, I will only shoot a mature doe. When I hunted a private farm, I usually would not shoot a doe within the first hour or two during opening week of rifle because I didn't want to potentially spook a buck. I remember one opening morning on that farm when I saw 37 does and I let them all walk although I really questioned that decision afterwards. And got a little admonishment from some of the other guys. If I recall on the 3rd morning that year I did pull the trigger on a 130lb doe. I figured after letting 37 legal deer walk that letting another one, especially a big mature doe was just being stupid and tempting fate too much.
 
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It’s always nice seeing bucks reaching their full potential through age. Each individual Hunter has their idea of a trophy and what makes them happy to hunt.
 

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Older bucks on my T Cams as in hunting are a real rarity for me; therefore, I try to locate the bucks with the nicest racks and hunt for them while allowing several smaller legal bucks walk past.
 

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Passed on an old timer big body buck a few years back in OH. He had a large main beam beyond his ears, 8 or 9 tines, but none longer than 3 inches....Weird....
 

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I say age is a trophy. Since Im hunting meat for the freezer and bucks get a first come first served with my xbow. Most bucks ive gotten last few years were all late season harvest so cant be too picky. I do see what I think are 4-5 yr olds on my cameras but rarely see them in range.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Age is more of a trophy but would much rather shoot something with a huge rack. No contest between 120 five or six year old and a 140 four year old for me personally.
This has basically been my mindset through the years as well, but as previously stated it's starting to waver a bit even though I haven't fully embraced it yet. Two reasons that currently have me leaning towards maturity over antlers is the body size of these older beast, and no longer having the deisre to get deer mounted. I arrowed a 130" buck last year and felt like I disrespected it when I sawed the antlers off. Not throwing in the towell yet, however. Just mighty impressed with these battle scarred warriors I'm keeping tabs on, and thinking maybe I should slam one of them.
 

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I think 20 years ago, even 10 possibly, a 5 year old deer was a real rarity here in pa. Now, still uncommon but not rare.

For those of yinz that "study" individual deer, mebey a big old but low scoring deer is your trophy. For me, many of the bucks I shoot I've never seen before so I'm looking at the headgear.

Couple years ago I passed what I figured was a really old buck in ohio. Had been seeing some huge tracks so I was expecting a huge buck which he was. 5 on the right, 4 on the left, plus some junk and a couple broken points. 14" wide, not really massive but not spindly like a 2 year old either. Saw him back down several other bucks in the week I was there. Farmer shot him in shotgun season but he only had half of 1 antler left. I'm not good at aging teeth but his were pretty smooth and he was missing some. Big frame but he wasn't carrying alot of weight, big feet and bones. Lots of scars.
 

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IM of the opinion that we have lots of old buck in Pa I hunt private but others hunt farms beside me and I have 2 5 or 6 yr old buck in the 150 class last yr on a south central pa farm, my buddy has a good 150 class 8 pt thats 6 yrs old hes been hunting for 3 yrs now.
Im sure it depends on location but their are many older buck that spend their life making us look silly hiding in plane sight
 

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Been hunting PA since I moved here in 1972. The first few years I did not hunt deer as through my scouting, driving back roads, spotlighting I was not seeing any bucks with racks of any size and I was spending a lot of time in the woods, hunting small game & hiking. I moved here from the state of IN where there were routine sightings and hunters taking some bigger racks. So my time was spent squirrel, duck/geese, pheasant, grouse hunting while taking a few woodcock with my eyes open for scrapes, rubs and bucks.

By the mid-late 70's my hunting buddies drug me into archery hunting and I fell in love with the challenge and over the years, I archery hunted TX, IL, IN, OH, WV, KY, and NY off and on along with PA through last season.

I must say I don't believe I have ever seen a buck in PA either live or on my 12-14 T cams which would score 145. I am impressed with what others are reporting here....The larger bucks on cams thus far this summer are maybe 100-115, but still scouting....and hoping.....
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I'm really not good at guesstimating a deer's age just by studying its picture, but on the properties I monitor for consecutive years, often times I can recognize individual deer from year to year. I'm starting to think there's a lot more older deer in the herd than we suspect, but I really can't make a lot of sense of it. Large antlers must have more to do with genetics than age as so many claim. Here's a few examples to add to the confusion. All of these bucks come from 1A.

This buck was arrowed in the 90's and was tooth aged at over 8 y/o. I knew he was old because his rack was going down hill and it took me a few years to kill him.
158166


This buck I arrowed in the 2000's and was tooth aged at over 7 y/o.
158167


Both of these bucks were over 5 y/o last year.
158168

158169


Both of these bucks were 2 y/o's. The first one was killed in rifle season a few years back, the 2nd is still alive.
158172

158173


Antler traits seem to be very inconsistent.
 

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I'm gonna say that antler inches are going to outshine age in this state forever for the simple fact that we have more poachers per square mile than anywhere else. There's just far too many guys that would hang a rifle out their bathroom window and blast a 160" deer. Smaller the rack, smaller percentage of guys willing to break the law.
 

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Antlers or age? Which better represents a PA trophy buck? I'm starting to sense a shift in my mentality, but I'm not certain that I'm 100% ready to embrace it. I used to be one of those guys that didn't believe PA bucks reached old age. Well the longer I continue to play this game the better I'm getting at it from the buck intel side of it. I'm currently monitoring five different properties in two different counties, and four of those properties possess 5 year old bucks or older. (I suspect the 5th property does as well but this is my first year monitoring it.) I never would've believed this a few years ago. None of these bucks possess record book racks. Age and body size are starting to picque my curiosity. Thought for fodder anyway.
Age on public land. If you can shoot anything 5 and above during archery, you know how to hunt.
 

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I'm gonna say that antler inches are going to outshine age in this state forever for the simple fact that we have more poachers per square mile than anywhere else. There's just far too many guys that would hang a rifle out their bathroom window and blast a 160" deer. Smaller the rack, smaller percentage of guys willing to break the law.
I won't dispute that poaching is an ever-present, and despicable, issue, but do you have any evidence to support that PA has the highest "poacher density" in the Nation, or are you just basing the claim on us having the highest documented HUNTER density?
 
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