Using age related information

Interest in aging deer is shared by other hunters, deer managers and nature lovers. Most people motivated to learn the technique are not just curious, but have a desire to learn more about deer. Many indicators of deer quality and herd welfare are related to age. For example, the presence of young animals-fawns and yearlings- that are growing well indicated good forage conditions. Poor reproduction in yearlings suggests inadequate nutrition.

A high percentage of old animals-4 and older- in the harvest may indicate light hunting pressure. Conversely, a high percentage of yearlings usually indicated heavy hunting pressure. The point is that various kinds of information and measurements must be interpreted in the context of the age groups represented.

To gain the most information you can use two complimentary approaches: 1) Compare your data with measurements of a standard-a high quality deer herd; and 2) Compare measurements taken in different years. Several years of data will indicate trends. For example, in a high quality deer herd nearly all 1 ½ year-old does become pregnant with single fawns. If examination of reproduction tracts showed that only 10 percent of yearlings were pregnant, or that only 30 percent of 2 ½ year-old does showed evidence of lactation, a nutritional deficiency should be suspected. An increasing percentage of yearlings testing pregnant over several years could indicate the success of a management program.

Three kinds of age-related measurements are particularly useful: those that reflect status or growth of the individual; those that show the age structure of a deer herd; and those that are descriptive averages of particular characteristics such as average weight of 3 ½ year-old bucks.

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½ year Fewer than six teeth are present in the jaw (usually four teeth for ages 5 and 6 months and five teeth for 7 months). Teeth 1,2 and 3 are temporary (milk) teeth. Tooth 3 has three cusps. Tooth 4 is the first permanent tooth erupt.