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Old 12-15-2008, 11:15 PM
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KTL KTL is offline
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Default How to age a buck

I have heard all sorts of theories on the matter. Some say by weight, grey in the face, size of rack, a hanging belly and of course their teeth. But if someone were to shoot a buck and want to get it mounted, you would never want to cut the cheek open to age there teeth. My taxadermist and I were discuusing this topic when he was capeing it out. He had a couple of fellas come in with a buck and swear to him it was a 5 year old. They said " Look at the all the grey in th bucks face" " Look at his size, he's over 200lbs dressed out" The taxadermist, his name is Doug, said to the guys "Take your hats off, and look at all the grey in your hair, how old are you both". "I am 54 years old and no grey and half the size you both are". Both of the guys were in there early 40s and over 6'4". Kinda funny I thought. He told me the best way the age a deer is to measure from the deers nose to the bottem of it's eye. O.K., I am rambling on now so I was just wondering if anyone else had any idea on aging a buck
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:35 AM
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Have the taxidermist save the jaw bone, the only thing he uses is the cape and the horns anyway. But you can't tell by the grey in the bucks face. I never heard about measuring the nose, bu twho knows.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:02 AM
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the scientific and most accurate way to age a Deer is the teeth and NO you do NOT need to cut the cheek open or anything to age it.
Some stores are now selling plastic Deer jaws as guages for comparison.

A Deers color, nose, ears, antler's, belly, girth, length, height & weight, muscle mass and hoof size can help a person guess at a Deers age but
it's only a guess and sometimes isn't even close to the actual age of the deer.

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 their two front teeth, an 18-month-old buck will be in the process of losing its third premolar.

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.
I hope this info helps.
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Old 12-16-2008, 01:17 PM
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I would like to respectfully disagree. If you know the deer herd in YOUR area and spend enough time with them you can tell in other ways besides the teeth... This is from an informative poster straight from QDMA

1 1/2 Bucks
  • Looks like a doe with antlers
  • Thin neck, slim body
  • Distinct line of seperation between neck and shoulder
  • Legs appear too long in proportion to the rest of the body
  • No muscle definition (sleek looking)
  • Wide potential for number of antler points, but antlers are thin
  • Little or no tarsal staining
2 1/2 Bucks
  • Relatively thin wasit and shoulders
  • Hindquarters are proportional to chest/shoulder area
  • Minimal neck swelling during the rut
  • Lightly stained tarsal glands
  • Neck width is roughly equal to face width
  • Back and belly are flat
3 1/2 Bucks
  • Thickly muscled neck during the rut, but there is still a separation between the neck and shoulders
  • Chest/shoulder area now begins to look heavier than hindquarters
  • Overall look of an athlete in prime condition (good muscle tone but still lanky and lean)
  • Neck is now wider than the face, especially during the rut
4 1/2 Bucks
  • Fully muscled neck blends into the shoulders seamlessly
  • No longer lanky or lean-leg length is proportional to body size
  • Waistline has dropped and is now level with the chestline
  • Tarsal glands are large and very dark during the rut
5 1/2 Bucks
  • Shoulders and neck appear to be one large mass
  • Belly is rounder and may sag, except when post-rut weight loss is a factor, as in these photos
  • Legs begin to appear too short for the massive body
  • Neck is thick and heavy, but the skin still appears tight
  • Head appears very deep and heavy from a profile view
  • Forehead is darkened by gland secretions, and some graying may be visible around the muzzle
6 1/2 Bucks
  • Contrast between darker forehead and graying muzzle increasing
  • Prominent pot-belly
  • Heavy body appears too big for the legs
  • Skin around the face and neck is rippled and appears loose. A flap of loose skin is visible at the throat/jawline
  • In the rut, tarsal stain extends down the inside of the legs
  • Neck and chest appear to be one continuous muscle
Other Considerations
  • Attitude--When one buck encounters another, whether the second buck is subordinate or a close match in dominance, either or both may "posture" by flattening their ears and raising the hair on their neck, shoulders, and sides. Pay attention to all physical clues, and don't let the bristling neck fool you into overaging a posturing buck based on neck and body size. A young deer can look much older when posturing up
  • Antler Characteristics---Antler Spread--The tip to tip distance between a buck's ears in a semi-alert position is about 13-14 inches for Southern deer and 15-16 inches for a Northern deer. Yearling bucks RARELY have outside spreads greater than 14 inches, so protecting bucks with less than an ear-tip spread prevents the harvest of most yearling bucks.
  • Beam-length---Main beam length is one of the best indicators of general age in bucks, but it can be hard to judge. A clear profile view and a frontal view of the buck's head and antlers are needed to make an accurate estimate. When studying a buck's profile, if the tip of the beam extends beyond the front of the eye, main beam length probably exceeds 15-16 inches. If the tip of the main beam extends to the tip of the nose, length probably exceeds 20 inches. This is based on an ear tip spread, so wider racks will have longer main beams. On average, the main beam length of a 2 1/2 yr old buck is 16inches and for 3 1/2 yr old bucks its 18 1/2 inches. Main beams of 20+ inches typically indicate bucks of 4 1/2 yrs or greater. These numbers are averages, and YOU SHOULD USE DATA FROM HARVESTED BUCKS TO ESTABLISH LOCALIZED STANDARDS FOR YOUR AREA!
There are pictures that accompany each of the descriptions and you can easily tell an age difference in each age class of deer. Like i said in another post, my dad has been in the state's game agency for 30 years so I have been around deer my whole life. Maybe that's why I can age deer by looking at them. A buddy of mine named Jeremy worked a check station with me on an Oak Ridge Non-Quota Hunt a year ago. He said it is impossible to tell a deers age by looking at the deers features..yet I never got a deers age wrong. I looked at the deers body, face, antlers, etc....I would guess, then he would remove the jaw-bone....100% accurate every time. I did get one wrong a week later when he brought me a picture of two deer...one was from Ohio and the other was from TN. The TN one I got right, but the Ohio one I was a yr off. Then again, I haven't been watching Ohio deer for 21 yrs.

I am not trying to toot my own horn, I am just trying to make people see you CAN age a deer without harvesting them. I think people fall into that trap of feeling helpless and they end up harvesting a deer before taking the time to size it up...this leads to small buck populations, and the loss of a strong, good size buck population.

You can closely judge the age of people, dogs, cats, plants, etc.....by their outward appearance....why would deer be any different? There are exceptions to every rule, but 99% of the time you can tell!

Thanks!
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Old 12-16-2008, 03:47 PM
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I'm not questioning anyones experience or ability to age deer on the hoof but aging deer on the hoof is nothing more than a individuals best guess even the QDMA Experts agree "Aging a deer on the hoof is only an estimate of the deers age" and not a scientific calculation.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:15 PM
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all are valid methods im hearing now the best method is to actually cut a tooth in half .It has rings like a tree.you can also carbon date it for the most accurate method
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Genesis 27:3 "The thinking deer hunter should mature through three phases during his hunting life. First phase, "I need to kill a deer." Second phase, I want to harvest a nice deer. And last phase, we must manage this resource so our children and their children can experience the grand tradition of good deer hunting." - Jim Slinsky
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Old 12-17-2008, 08:54 AM
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Wow, that is some good information...thanks tnrebel
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:42 AM
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I can do through the toughnest of the steaks!
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Old 12-17-2008, 06:20 PM
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Great info guys. I have never heard of the tooth method. Joel, what do you mean by CARBON DATE IT....
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Old 12-17-2008, 08:06 PM
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you know like they do with fossils
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Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison.
Genesis 27:3 "The thinking deer hunter should mature through three phases during his hunting life. First phase, "I need to kill a deer." Second phase, I want to harvest a nice deer. And last phase, we must manage this resource so our children and their children can experience the grand tradition of good deer hunting." - Jim Slinsky
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