What is a Button Buck?

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Among the most common questions that appear on hunter’s platforms is: what is a button buck? A button buck is a male deer around six months of age, usually confused for a doe (female deer). It gets the name ‘Button’ from the two bumps or buttons that protrude on its head before antler growth. The buttons or bumps are technically known as pedicels and are usually not recorded to rise so much above the buck’s skin line. Therefore, you cannot quickly tell a buck from a doe when looking from a far distance.

How Old is a Button Buck?

While it will be correct to say that button bucks are always six-month-old bucks, they begin developing antler pedicles when they are four months old, depending on their nutrition. The ‘buttons’ or pedicles are fully formed and visible when the button buck is six months old. That is why it will be right to say that a button buck is a six-month-old male deer. 

Is a Button Buck Considered a Buck?

Asking this question is equivalent to asking whether a male cow-calf can be considered as a bull or not. Well, the calf is a bull in-making, and it will be one in the future, given time. The same way, a button buck is a buck in the making, and when given time, it will emerge to become one big buck with all the features a buck should have.  

Hunters who ask this question are usually the ones who have mistakenly shot a button buck, thinking it was a doe in a hunting zone with limits on the number of bucks a hunter should hunt. Therefore, they wish to know whether the button buck they’ve hunted would count as a mature buck and affect their limited hunting allowance.

Hunting down a button buck in such areas is counted as you have hunted a buck itself and so, yes, a button buck is considered and counted as a buck.

How to Tell a Button Buck

What Unique Characteristics Button Bucks Posses That Tell Between them and Does

While some hunters confuse or refer to button bucks as yearlings, the common confusion is always linking the button buck to does. It is so confusing that many hunters end up taking down button bucks when hunting does. This happens so much during the doe season, and hunters are looking for antlerless deer.

However, as a seasoned hunter, you can easily tell a doe from a button buck. But if you are still new into your hunting adventures, then you can use the following tips to help you differentiate these two conflicting types of deer.

Does and Button Bucks Differ in Shape

If you are observant enough, you will not recognize the difference in shape between a doe and a button buck. A mature doe is taller, larger, and more rectangular. She has a longer neck compared to a button buck’s shorter one.

Button bucks have a body that is more square-shaped than rectangular. Their heads are shorter and flat and are situated near the pedicles while a doe’s head is longer, rounder, and somehow bigger.

What Kind of Behavior Does a Button Buck Show? 

You can take some time before shooting to study the deer’s behavior in the field when hunting. When you observe closely for some time, maybe through binoculars, you will likely identify the difference in behavior between a doe and a button buck.

While buttons tend to be wary of danger and their surroundings, button bucks are much less careful and do not sense danger easily. You can try trapping the deer with food in a place where only does, and button bucks are. You are most likely to catch a button buck in the trap than a doe.

Is the Button Buck a Solitary Animal? 

Mostly, you will encounter a doe in the company of others. Does rarely walk around alone. The case is not the same for button bucks as they tend to travel independently. It is argued that approximately 75% of young bucks travel from the area they were born in search of better habitat. Most of the time, you will spot an antlerless deer by itself; chances are high; it is a button buck.

You should take a clearer look through your scope before taking down an antlerless deer alone. When hunting does, it is best if you situate yourself at a higher ground where you can easily see if the deer has pedicels on its head or not.

How to Tell a Button Buck by the Tracks

Generally, does have more organized and more pointed tracks. On the other hand, button bucks have some wider spread tracks that are mostly disorganized. This difference in tracks is because button bucks tend to drag their feet across the ground when walking. On the other hand, the does pick up their feet in an orderly manner when walking, which leaves behind orderly and pointed tracks.

You can only use the tracks to differentiate the two when muddy or the ground has some loose soil. However, on dry grounds where tracks are hard to notice, this option may not be effective.

Telling a Button Buck and a Spike Apart

Differentiating a spike from a button buck shouldn’t be a daunting task. While a button buck is a six-month-old male deer, a spike is older. Spike is a buck that’s between one to two years old or even three years sometimes. 

The spikes get their name from the two vertical spikes that are the initial form of their developing antlers, sprouting out of their heads. These spikes easily differentiate them from their younger counterparts; the button bucks have their antlers still under the skin.


While hunting does, you need to take extra care not to take out the upcoming bucks instead. While it is perfectly legal to hunt down button bucks, it is needless doing so if they can grow up into huge bucks.

When in a group, always shoot the largest deer in the group to minimize the chances of taking down a button buck. Also, when you see a lone ranger doe, only shoot if it is a large size. With continuous engagements with the does, button bucks, and spikes, you will soon be an expert in telling them apart quickly without a struggle.

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