Shoot for Age or Shoot for Points?

Whitetail Deer

Deer Abby:

I have been reading articles on The 4 Pointer Blog for as long as it has been written but haven’t read one that would help me deal with a problem I had last year.  Since the deer season will once again get underway out here in Wyoming I thought it appropriate to seek advice in case the same scenario comes up again.

First of all, I have read about how you all like to text each other because so much time goes by without seeing any deer.  That never seems to happen to me, I have deer all over me from the time I sit in my stand until it’s too dark to see.  There is so much stress looking forwards, backwards, and to the side as I am hearing and seeing them in every direction constantly.  So I never have time to even locate my phone, much less use it.  No nap, no texting, not even any eating.  This is a terrible dilemma. Not sure how to handle it. But this is not the problem I was referring to, just a side issue really.

So here goes, and it is emotional to discuss:  Last year I got to my stand early.  After kicking out 5 or 6 deer on the way in I left my backpack at the base of the ladder. While climbing into the stand I pulled the gun up on the rope provided as a nice buck watched from about 80 yds. away.  Still not the dilemma.  Almost instantly a sound from behind my stand indicated something was coming and here comes this spike buck, walks up to my backpack and sniffs it. I think he was trying to decide for either the Snickers or the Granola but he couldn’t unzip the pack and moved on after I whispered, “Real men always eat the Snickers first”.  This was the deer’s dilemma, not mine.  He wandered off. 

The real dilemma happened soon after. I hear walking noises in the brush just across the fence on unshootable land (posted). Here comes a parade of three bucks, a nice wide, kinda high 5 X 5, a small 4 by 4, and a very large bodied, heavy horned, wide, 4 by 4.  I know you are thinking the dilemma was whether to shoot across the fence and that might have been it, but they crossed the fence rather quickly. So here is the question I am trying to ask you to see what you would/should do:  Should you go for the points or for the maturity of the deer?

img_2662I will send you a picture of the one I chose, but I am anxiously awaiting your mature and wise response in case it comes up again this year.  It might, there seem to be twice as many deer out here than there was last year.  It is better if you think these things through beforehand so you don’t make a poor decision in haste.

Thanks for any insights you can give me.

Uncle Dan

Deer Conflicted,

Retirement sounds stressful!

There is no easy to answer to your dilemma, but believe it or not, we Vermonters have had a solution for ages. Until about ten years ago we would have shot the spike. This simplistic approach to buck hunting singlehandedly removes the dilemma which you faced last year and have the potential to face again this year. Is that an option for you? After all, he was about to eat your food. Deer like that can’t be trusted and should be culled from the herd. 

We can’t shoot spike horns anymore and some crazy hunters suggest we allow bucks to grow even older before we can shoot them. Can you believe that? If that happens, I fear we may face similar problems as you folks in Wyoming. It sounds awful.

But I suspect you are not interested in shooting such a small deer with so many larger bucks parading by, so let’s get to the heart of your question. Should you shoot for points or maturity? I happen to be experienced in this matter as well, even though I am from Vermont, and am willing to share my perspective. 

You may not know it, but I fancy myself as a mature buck hunter. It’s true. About one day after the season ends I begin dreaming of hunting big, mature bucks the following season. All spring and summer I am mature buck hunter, as are most Vermont deer hunters based on their comments I read online in the off season. 

Then, after the first three days of the season I begin questioning whether I am really a mature buck hunter and start thinking about shooting for points. Here in Vermont we are allowed to shoot any buck as long as it has two points on one antler. As you can see, I am faced with the same dilemma as you are with the ten pointer and the eight pointer (eastern count). I, too, am challenged with having to decide between shooting for age or shooting for points.

Usually, I end up shooting for points if given the opportunity. Most years, this decision is made for me by default, and I end up whipping up a nice bowl of tag soup – another side benefit to hunting here in Vermont. It’s very tasty if the right paper and printer ink are used. Have you considered hunting here? It could be a nice change of pace for you.

Perhaps I can offer a different angle that may help you with your decision, one I think you may be able to appreciate. Have you considered shooting the one that is closer to the truck so it’s not so physically taxing to get it home for processing? I hear your back has been a little sore after harvesting an elk and a few antelope last weekend.


Nephew Tim

P.S. You have a cell phone?

Tim FaceI feel like I’m pretty good at this advice thing. If you need hunting advice please submit your questions to You won’t be disappointed.   

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7 years ago

actually he just did get a cell phone.