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With deer season opening right around the corner, it is a good time to try to address a popular question. "Why don't I have any trophy bucks on my place?"

For the past five years that I have been hosting a television hunting show, I must have been asked that a thousand times. Although there is no single answer, I'll try to explain a common theory among ranchers and serious trophy deer hunters.

Most hunters would like to shoot a trophy buck. They hunt on relatively small pieces of property where deer roam freely on numerous ranches. For a deer to be considered mature, it must be 5-1/2 years old. A buck will reach its maximum antler development at that age. Until then, it is building its body rather than antlers.

Most deer never reach maturity because they are shot too young. The reason behind this is that if one hunter chooses to pass on a middle aged deer (3-1/2 - 4-1/2 years old) then the hunter in the next pasture may shoot it. If you kill a buck before is he mature, you will never know what it could have grown into.

In many areas in Texas most bucks killed are 3-1/2 years old or younger. Diet and genetics play an important role in determining a trophy. But without age, it'll never happen.

In order to grow trophy deer, you must protect them from being shot too young. It is relatively easy to feed deer the right nutrition, but it is hard to assure that your neighbor won't pull the trigger. You must have managed control of the harvest. That is why many large and small land owners are now high fencing their ranches.

Hunters should consider - do they want quantity or quality of deer. Rarely does quality happen in a loosely managed over-populated area. My father had hunted whitetails over 50 years when I asked him, "You've never seen a mature buck?" He chuckled and replied, "How do you know?" My answer was simple, "When you see one you will know."

Two years after that conversation he found out I was right. "It was as though an old man walked out amongst a bunch of youngsters. From his face to his rump he looked mature. Deep chested, short legged, saggy chin and pot belly. He looked like an old man," my father said.

This season rather than looking at the antlers, first look at the body. If and when you see a mature deer, you will know it. Odds are that it'll be bigger than anything you have ever seen.

Keith Warren is the host of The Texas Angler and Hunting & Outdoor Adventure Television Shows, both of which broadcast statewide. Catch the Texas Angler from January through June and Hunting & Outdoor Adventures from July through December on Fox Sports Southwest Cable Network. Call our office for show times at 830-625-3474. You can write to Keith Warren at P.O. Box 3103179, New Braunfels, TX 78131-0379 or visit on-line at

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