How to tell the difference between a mature doe and a fawn/button buck

Once December arrives in Michigan, most hunters start thinking about stocking up the freezer rather than chasing that big buck.  This is probably good thinking because the odds of running into Mr. Big in the woods drops dramatically after the first few days of gun season.

For most hunters, stocking up the freezer means shooting does.  Luckily for hunters, doe tags (and does) are pretty easy to come by in Michigan.  The problem is that when you have a nice doe (you think it is nice at least) in your scope, it doesn't always end up as big as you thought.

This phenomenon also happens with bucks.  How many times have you heard that a guy thought he saw a bruiser but just cannot figure out why a four point is on the ground?  At least with this scenario, the four point is not a button buck or fawn and the hunter will get some sort of meat.

With does, it is very easy to mistake one for a button buck or fawn.  For some reason, after sitting in a tree stand for multiple hours, your mind starts playing tricks with you.  You think you see a nice doe but then a mature doe steps out and you realize the first deer was a button buck or fawn.

I had this happen to me a lot when I first started hunting and would be lying to say it will never happen again.  Luckily, I never pulled the trigger but waited until another deer was in the field to decide to shoot.  This is the best way to decipher the size of a deer but always isn't practical.

If you are on your last day of a trip or see a lone deer, sometimes you cannot wait.  You have to make a decision and live with the consequences.  However, the decision doesn't have to be a gamble.  There are a few tricks that I have learned over the years to tell the difference between a mature doe and a fawn/button buck. 

The first dead give-away of a mature doe is the snout of the deer.  A fawn or button buck will have a short snout compared to a long snout of a mature doe.  Also, a mature does chest will stick out further than a fawn/button buck.

If you are not familar with what a short snout or long snout looks like or a big chest/small chest, take some time checking out pictures of mature does compared to fawns/button bucks.  You should be able to remember the difference after a few pictures.

Check out the snout and rectangular body... this is what you are looking for

The next thing to look for is the shape of the deer.  From long distances, a fawn or button buck will look just as long as a mature doe when in the field (they aren't but one might be closer to you than you think making it look bigger).

To help when this is the case, look for a mature doe to have more of a rectangular shape while a fawn/button buck has more of a squared body.  Again, familiarize yourself with pictures on the Internet before you go hunting.

These are just two of the things that I look for when trying to tell the difference between a mature doe and a fawn/button buck but I am sure there are many more.  Please share in the comment section any more ideas that you can think of.  Hopefully this article and the comments will help more button bucks/ fawns survive to be mature deer.





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