|How to Age Your Deer
Deer are primarily born in late May and
early June. Therefore, when most deer are harvested in November they are either six
months, 1-1/2; years, 2-1/2; years, 3-1/2; years, etc., in age. This guide is designed to
block deer into these age categories.
age structure of a hunted deer population is younger than most people think. During the
fall of 1995, the Game and Fish Department operated 15 check stations in southeastern
North Dakota. Of 790 deer aged at these check stations, 80 percent were 2-1/2; years old
Antler and body size can indicate a deer's age, but
physical characteristics are often misleading. The number of antler points in no way
corresponds to age. Even if it did, it wouldn't help in aging does, which make up a
considerable proportion of the harvest each year.
Antler size in bucks and physical development in both
genders is greatly affected by diet and genetics, which may account for differences
between animals of the same age taken from different locations.
Deer in areas where row crops are more common, are often
heavier bodied. Six-month-old deer (fawns) may at first appear older, and yearlings
(1-1/2; years old) may approach 140 pounds field dressed.
It's All in the Teeth
The science of aging deer is based on tooth development and wear.
Like humans, deer replace their "baby teeth" with
permanent teeth at a relatively set rate. As surely as a 6-year-old child will soon lose
her two front teeth, an 18-month-old buck will be in the process of losing its third
By the time a deer is 2-1/2; years old, all permanent teeth
are in. At this stage, estimating age is based largely on the rate of tooth wear. Diet and
soil types may accelerate tooth wear, but generally, estimating the age of adult deer is
straight forward until they reach age 5-1/2;. Beyond that, estimating age by tooth wear is
Section: Tooth Identification Basics > > Click to Continue