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Buckeye is one of the first trees to have their leaves begin to form in the spring. The leaves have 5 leaflets emanting from a single point. This is called a "palmately compound" leaf. But we are here for field ID without leaves...
The first thing to look for is the opposite branching. If your tree has opposite branching, then it is either a Maple, an Ash, a Dogwood, or Buckeye. Buckeye has the smoothest bark out of the bunch, and is fairly distinct once you have seen it a few times.
Look for buckeye in lowlands near water.