Why Register?Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.
Welcome to Field & Stream!
Question by 13schmn. Uploaded on May 17, 2010
Answer a question with a question...are you wanting to know how you judge age when looking through the scope or when a deer in down? Worn teeth is the primary indicator. About 90% of the deer harvested are 3 1/2 years old. The older the deer, the flater the teeth. Or, are you looking for a Certificate of Aging (available through WAL) that you can frame and place next to your wall mount?
On the hoof while you are hunting, the best way is to gauge rack size by body size and mature deer just have a look on their face that says they are mature. I have seen palmated racks that seemed thick as hell, but the deer were only 2.5 years old. You could tell by their body size. I have also seen deer that were huge body sized but small rack sized and they were an older genetically inferior deer as evidenced from their tooth decay after harvesting them.
Once a deer hits 3.5 years old their bodies just seem more fuller and broader. And they will generally peak at about 5.5 years old give or take a year. Now it is different for every deer, but its a quick way to gauge a deer on the hoof.
As far as rack size goes for aging, don't necessarily look at how many points. Its mostly how much mass it has, and also width too, but like I said before, it can be decieving, and it also has to do with the area that you hunt.
older deer will be pot bellied, roman nosed, grey in the face, larger foreheads and bigger necks.
I just stepped in front of the shaving mirror and realized, by your description, I'm am "older deer"!
eehhhhh? What's that sonny?
Ignore the antlers..The Antler development is more a matter of genetics, rather than a deer's age..The antlers of very mature bucks may actually thin with age..Look at the backbone of the deer..A young deer, 1 to 1 1/2-years old will have only a slight dip in its back..The back will become straight over the next couple of years..A deer 6 years old or older will have a definite sag along its back..Observe the deer's neck..A young deer's neck looks long and thin..The neck thickens with age and a mature buck in rut will have a neck that is thick and full..Watch the deer's eyes..A deer's eyes start out round and slowly narrow as they age..The change starts when they are about 4 years old, and by the time the deer is fully mature the eyes will appear as if the deer is squinting..Compare the legs to the body..The front legs of a young deer, where the legs meet the body, are close together..There is not much chest between the legs of a young deer..Older deer's legs are spaced much further apart giving them a broad stance and a lot of chest area between the legs..Look for thin, bony deer..If the deer's hipbones are obvious, it can be either a malnourished deer of any age or a very old deer past its prime..If a thin deer has narrow eyes, the deer is probably older than six years..An older deer will have trouble taking in proper nutrition because of its teeth wearing down..Check the teeth if you have the deer..Check the side cheek teeth as the front teeth are not used for aging purposes..A young deer's teeth will show little wear..By the time a deer is 3 years old, the teeth will begin to show wear..The teeth of a deer older than 7 will be worn almost flat!!!
Tooth wear is the usual scientific method once the deer is gounded. Cgull's description is dead on and I would also add sway backed as a way to eyeball age a deer.
Tooth wear was the method, and in some ways still is used, but here in Mo it is somewhat put aside because it in itself is not exact.
In other words body size is still good to go by.
If you want to go buy tooth size then open you deers' mouth and go back to the first pre-molar. Measure it. At maturity it should be 10mm tall. Subtract your measurement of the deer you killed from 10mm and that will be the age of your deer.
Example: Your measurement 6 1/2mm minus from 10mm = 3 1/2 yr old deer. That is according to tooth measurement. Which may be valid.
Ask him what year he was born and subtract that from 2010. hahahaha sorry couldn't help myself.
There's some truth in what Jim in Mo said that aging by tooth wear is not exact. However, I've never heard of the tooth measurement method that he mentioned, and body size isn't an accurate method to use at all. Using tooth wear, deer can be aged accurately to 3.5 years of age throughout most of north america...after that, judging the amount of wear can be difficult, and aging becomes more of an estimate. I work exclusively with deer and have aged thousands, and we always age them by tooth wear.
When using the tooth method there is no universal scale. You have to compare to deer from the same region/habitat eating similar food sources.
Hey Del in KS...if the muley or whitetail that 13schmn is asking about happens to be a Buck, well HE'S NOT ABOUT TO ANSWER YOU about the year he was born. Now, what I'd do, is ask the Doe he's bedding down with 'cause if anybody knows, she'd know EXACTLY HOW OLD HE IS!
Fieldandstream.com is part of the Field & Stream Network, a division of Bonnier Corporation.
Copyright © 2012 Bonnier Corp. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.