Big Bucks, Shed Antlers & Turkey Hunting

deer hunting/big bucks/turkey hunting

Shed hunting is a prime time to maximize your time afield by also looking for potential spring turkey hunting spots. Photo by Daniel E. Schmidt


Have you ever asked yourself this question while scouting in the winter or looking for shed antlers in spring: Can deer tracks reveal the sex of an individual deer?

Hunters often disagree about whether it’s possible to identify a deer’s sex by looking at its tracks. However, some experienced hunters believe it is often possible to differentiate the genders. Here are some tips on track identification.

Most tracks 3 inches or longer are made by mature bucks. Also, the hind hoofs of mature bucks usually land short of the imprints made by their front hoofs.

Heavy-bodied bucks with swollen necks and large antlers tend to walk with their front hoofs more splayed, turned out, and wider apart than does any yearling bucks. This puts more pressure on the tips of their hoofs and causes them to dig in and become rounded. However, take note that any deer that frequents areas with hard or rocky ground may have rounded hoofs.

All deer leave drag marks when walking in deep snow, but bucks drag their hoofs in leaves and light snow. During the rut, drag marks reach their maximum lengths.

A doe’s tack usually meanders, while bucks maintain a purposeful, fairly straight line. Because of a doe’s pelvic structure, her hind hoofs overlap and land outside the front imprints, especially in older animals.


Does hunch their back and urinate in their tracks, often with a wide, irregular spray. A buck’s urine typically comes straight down and perforates unbroken snow. Bucks often dribble while they walk, but does do not.

Like human fingerprints, deer hoofs also have individual characteristics that can be used to distinguish them from other deer upon close examination. Examples of these varying traits include concave surfaces, chipped toes and wide-splayed hoofs.

While looking for sheds and analyzing deer tracks on a large public property this past weekend, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to our upcoming turkey season. We are only eight weeks away from the opener here in Wisconsin. After all, it won’t be long until those big groups of longbeards disperse and start sounding off in their spring roosting areas. If you, too, are getting ready to chase spring gobblers, be sure to check out all of the great info and deals on calls, decoys and more at our sister site Turkey & Turkey Hunting.