How To Judge Deer In The Field

Learn How to Judge Whitetail Deer Quickly

Is that a Doe or a Button Buck?   How do you make that split second decision?   How many points does that Buck have?    How can I use a Buck’s windows to estimate points?   These are just a few decisions you will need to make while trying to fill your tags.

Judging Deer requires patience and time spent in the field.  Even a veteran deer hunter will make mistakes. Hunting from a ground blind or a tree stand, your perception of each deer can vary.  Harvesting a Button Buck believing it was a Doe is the most common mistake.

In Michigan our restricted deer tag requires an antlered deer to have at least one antler with 4 or more points on one side.   Attempting to count points, as well as  Buck Fever is a stressful situation.  A split second decision will have to be made.

These scenarios can be a little less stressful with the following helpful tips.

A Buck’s Windows:

I am quite sure some of you have heard of using a Buck’s Windows to estimate the number of points.   For those of you who have not, this will work great for you.   Have you ever had a Buck sneak into your shooting lane broadside?   But you can not tell how many points the buck’s head gear holds without trying to count each one.   The trick is quite easy, count the number of windows.

1 window = 6 pointer with brow tines.

2 windows = 8 pointer with brow tines.

3 windows= 10 pointer with brow tines.


4 windows = 12 pointer with brow tines.


Using the Michigan situation I stated earlier, a  three window Buck gives me four points on one side without brow tines, a legal second tag buck.    The decision was made quickly and allows you time for the shot.   Use this method with caution!   Know your target and it’s surroundings.

Adult Doe or Button Buck:

Learning the difference between an Adult Doe and a Button Buck will probably help you avoid any surprises when you recover your deer.  A Button Buck  is a first year buck.  They will have two knobs (buttons) at the base of their antlers.  These are usually hard to see without using binoculars, a scope or viewing from an elevated tree stand.  Below are a few tips to help you identify Button Buck’s and adult Does.

  • A mature doe will have a long neck and face.  There body will also be more of a rectangular shape.
  • Button Buck’s and Fawn Does will have more of a square shape with a short face and neck.
  • A does head is rounded on top between the ears while the buck’s head is flattened at the base of the antlers.
  • If you view a single antlerless deer keep this in mind. Button Buck’s usually travel alone, adult does rarely do.

The best action to take for judging the difference between a mature deer and a juvenile deer is to spend more time scouting, hunting or just observing their activities in the field.

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