Question: “I’ve grown up deer hunting in Louisiana and we mostly shot deer to eat. After college, I moved to North Texas and ended up getting on a deer lease several years later. The guys out there try to manage the deer, but I’m no pro when it comes to aging deer on the hoof or by their teeth. This is my second year on the lease and although I’m getting better at determining a deer’s age, I want another opinion on the age of the jawbones in the attached photos. Thanks.”
Response: When looking at a deer’s jawbone to make an age estimation it’s important to pay attention to overall wear. Proper aging is important for deer management goals, but most of the work is done in the field or from game camera photos before the shot is taken. After a deer is harvested, it’s good to check the teeth to verify the kill. The third, fourth and fifth tooth become very important. This deer shows a lot of wear on its third and forth tooth, but not significant wear on the fifth tooth. The teeth in the jaw of this buck appear to be that of a textbook 5 1/2 year old deer.
It’s important to note that a deer can show more tooth wear on one side than the other. They can also sustain tooth damage that can impact one side of the mouth. In the case of the deer in question, the tooth wear on the opposite side of the jaw appears to be the same, from a 5 1/2 year old deer. Aging deer by their teeth is not 100 percent. Using jawbones, a person can usually say that deer is at least X years old. However, the deer may be even a year or two older. They can be older than they look, but deer are rarely younger than their teeth show.