Vermont Deer Tooth Aging Study Finds Two 17-Year-Old Does

Hunter-submitted deer teeth are providing critical information to Vermont's wildlife managers

The Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department’s deer management program just got a tremendous boost from hunters who submitted 3,637 teeth to the Whitetail Tooth Aging Program—and the results are now in. Of the thousands of teeth submitted from deer taken during both rifle and youth seasons, two does were found to be the oldest at 17 years old. They beat the oldest harvested buck by a longshot, which was 10.

The goal of the Whitetail Tooth Aging Program is to help whitetail managers take stock of the state’s deer population. To figure out a deer’s age, scientists slice an incisor and then use microscopes to evaluate the rings deposited over a tooth’s root. “This age information helps us estimate deer population size and assess the health of deer,” Deer Project Leader Nick Fortin says.  “It is also critically important for understanding the effects of new hunting regulations on the deer population and buck age structure.” Comparing age to body weight and antler measurements provide valuable information to determine the population’s health. Managers then use this information to create a successful management plan.

Hunters who submitted teeth this past season can sign on to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife website and learn the ages of their animals.  Hunters in Vermont who are interested in participating in the 2021 whitetail tooth collection program can pick up envelopes at deer reporting stations.