Deer Aging

Young Buck or Old Buck?

Young buck.

Young Buck

Appears to be a doe with antlers.
Has legs that seem too long for body.
Often lacks good definition in muscles.
Has a slender neck and body.
Has antlers that tend to be thin.

 

Mature Buck.

Mature Buck

Has legs that look proportional to the body size.
Has a neck the same width or wider than face.
Is proportional from front to rear of body.
Has a belly and a back that are flat and tight.

Old buck.

Old Buck

Has legs that look a bit short for body size.
Has rippled skin around neck and face.
Might have some gray visible around muzzle.
Has a belly that tends to sag.
Has a neck and chest that seem to be 1 large muscle.
Has a forehead that’s usually darker than the muzzle.

What are antlers? And can they tell about a deer's age?

Antlers are not horns. They are living bone structures grown and shed each year by male deer. Antler growth is affected by many factors, including the quality of habitat, available nutrition, a deer’s age and its genetic background. The number of antler points a buck has does not correlate with the buck’s age. Yearling bucks have been known to grow antlers with eight or 10 points when the habitat and nutrition are good. The spread of the antlers can offer a clue to a buck’s age. Yearling bucks rarely have antlers that grow wider than its ears. A buck with antler spread well outside the end of the ears is normally a mature or older buck. Because so many variables affect antler growth, estimating a buck’s age using antler characteristics is not recommended. Using body and antler characteristics together can help place bucks into general age classes: younger, mature, and older deer.  Check out the Young Buck or Old Buck Poster for additional information.


Age My Deer?

How would you like to help collect important data that would be used to better manage the state's deer herd? You can by following the steps below and providing our deer biologist an opportunity to age your harvested deer! Your photos will be analyzed and if an age can be accurately determined, your deer's age will be added to the statewide database used to help make deer management decisions. As an added benefit, your deer's age will be posted here by your e-check confirmation number eliminating the guessing game involved with attempting to age based on body conditions.

There are two effective methods to remove a deer jaw. This video demonstrates how.

Submit A Deer Jaw