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#6145713 - 01/20/16 07:16 PM Aging a deer
jdpwolf Offline
Outdoorsman

Registered: 01/17/07
Posts: 54
Okay, I am a novice and I will admit it. We have a 200 acre ranch with low fences so the deer can come and go as they please. I have watched the outdoor channel and heard hunters talking the age of an deer. Is this because the hunter can tell by signs on the deer how old it is or is it the hunter is privy to information that the owner of the property knows the age. If you have any pointers on how to estimate a deer's age upon characteristics of the deer, it would be appreciated. We are trying to improve the quantity and quality of deer in the area and know we need to take older animals rather than younger one who show potential. This along with better feeding and mineral stations, will hopefully help.

Thank you in advance of you sharing the information.

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#6145727 - 01/20/16 07:23 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Slow Drifter Offline


Registered: 04/09/09
Posts: 4252
Loc: Central Texas
If he has long legs he's young. Never shoot a doe by herself. Best I got. Best of luck to you sir.
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#6145740 - 01/20/16 07:30 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Misty Oaks Ranch Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 02/19/12
Posts: 25
Loc: Seguin, TX, Guadalupe Co.
Body size and body development are the first indication. Bucks get larger front ends, brisket area, forearms, stomachs, sagging backs. Also a bucks forehead will become more sunken with age, along with a color change. Does are similar, heads will get longer from ears to nose. If you can get view a good mixture of ages at one time, it will make the changes stick out more.
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#6145746 - 01/20/16 07:32 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
jaymz Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 11/22/06
Posts: 1587
Loc: Collin, Erath and Bosque
Game cameras will help. I usually look at the necks, thin neck with no defined brisket is typically a young deer. If your bucks make it past 3 1/2 years in any number, you will start to see the difference between years, both in the field and on cameras.
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#6145804 - 01/20/16 07:56 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: Slow Drifter]
TexasJohn Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 112
Loc: Fort Worth TX
Originally Posted By: Slow Drifter


Never shoot a doe by herself.


Why never shoot a doe by herself?

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#6145814 - 01/20/16 08:03 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: TexasJohn]
Misty Oaks Ranch Offline
Light Foot

Registered: 02/19/12
Posts: 25
Loc: Seguin, TX, Guadalupe Co.
Because for a beginner, there is nothing there to compare to. A lot of the time yearlings are the first deer to be on the scene.
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#6145874 - 01/20/16 08:34 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: Misty Oaks Ranch]
TexasJohn Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 11/08/05
Posts: 112
Loc: Fort Worth TX
Originally Posted By: Misty Oaks Ranch
Because for a beginner, there is nothing there to compare to. A lot of the time yearlings are the first deer to be on the scene.



Makes sense.

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#6145914 - 01/20/16 08:51 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
ttechcolleyville Offline
Woodsman

Registered: 12/06/13
Posts: 158
Loc: Colleyville, TX
There are many more folks on this forum far more knowledgeable about aging than I am, but here is what I learned when I immersed myself in this same subject a couple of seasons ago. There are a lot of sources and guides, but the physical characteristics of deer vary quite a bit by geography, even within Texas. You can drive yourself batty trying to tell whether a deer is 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, etc.

Personally, I should have just focused on learning the characteristics of a mature buck. I had not seen enough to realize that a 5.5 year or older buck is much easier to distinguish than the individual age. If you do that and make a mistake, you are still probably going to shoot a 4.5 year old buck - which is not nearly as bad as shooting a 3.5 or even 2.5.

That and studying trail cam pics - especially pre-rut so you know those bucks that are not mature and you aren't easily fooled when they waltz into sight during the rut with their necks all puffed up.

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#6145950 - 01/20/16 09:09 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Creekrunner Online   happy
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 10/19/12
Posts: 7161
Loc: Bexar/Gillespie, hunt Terrell
Lots of wisdom on here so far. I have shot the "lone doe" standing in the road, at dusk, on the way back to camp...with customers back at camp. Years ago. 'Won't make that mistake again. Always have others to compare.

A lease mate and friend of mine is pretty obsessed about aging/scoring deer. I hope he kicks it back a notch next year. I told him to shoot an old cull I'd seen back at one feeder. He did. I get back to camp and he's beside himself thinking he'd shot a young deer. (This was the kind of cull that, even if he was young, he definitely needed to be taken out.) He got his little plastic teeth aging kit out and opened the thing's jaw. It was old. My friend had about given himself the drizzles before he calmed down.
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#6145967 - 01/20/16 09:25 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
postoak Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 08/19/09
Posts: 2533
Loc: The Woodlands, Tx
On some of those shows they have been watching the same deer in person and on trail cams for years, that's how they know exactly how old they are. Being a cynic, I think they bought some of these deer, and that's another way they know.

What ttechcolleyville said is good. Try to distinguish between mature (4.5) and younger than that, at least to start.
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#6145979 - 01/20/16 09:33 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Justin T Online   content
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 09/23/09
Posts: 5802
Loc: Austin
Buy this book: Observing and Evaluating Whitetails

It's a great start.
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#6145997 - 01/20/16 09:44 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Curly Offline
Overrated

Registered: 08/08/08
Posts: 20116
Loc: Sittin on my butt on the THF
If a buck's antlers are 13" wide, he's mature....according to the TP&W. wink


Edited by Curly (01/20/16 09:46 PM)
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#6146064 - 01/20/16 11:19 PM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Txduckman Offline
THF Celebrity

Registered: 08/30/04
Posts: 11717
Loc: Big D
I learned by hunting South Texas where you will see all age class of deer in front of you. I apply that knowledge to my lease where we can see what is on camera. I now can pick the oldest doe out with no issue. One I took this year had no teeth. Wish we would see some old bucks though but they apparently all get shot or hide. I pass buck after buck due to age even though they are legal so hopefully some will make it.

If you put up cams you should be able to see the difference In the bucks like others have mentioned.

I once shot a lone doe. Except she grew one inch tines when I walked up to her. It was foggy but learned my lesson there.

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#6146253 - 01/21/16 08:08 AM Re: Aging a deer [Re: jdpwolf]
Txhunter65 Online   content
Bird Dog

Registered: 02/13/15
Posts: 490
Cut'em in half and count the rings and add 3....... Wait that's trees!

Seriously, it takes hours and hours of observing deer and looking at photos to actually be able to get close to a deers true age even then you can be a year off either way. When starting off its best to try to place them in three categories: fawns 6 months old , immature deer 1.5-3.5 years old, and mature deer those 4.5 and older. A deers bones tissue and muscles have stopped growing by 4.5 some ranches like to wait to 5.5-6.5 to harvest. For me the most difficult ages to differintiate is 3.5-4.5.

There's a lot of body characteristics to look at when aging bucks. It's always easier when there's more than one to look at. Here's a few:

Thin body long legs young deer;
Thick body short legs older deer;
Older bucks will appear to have a short snout or Roman nose;
Younger bucks will look like race horses;
Where older bucks will appear more like old fat horses provided good nutrition;
Older bucks have a swayed back.... This all depends on how he's standing;
Typically older bucks tarsal glands will be very dark and heavily stained;
Older bucks may have loose skin under their chin;
Where the neck, brisket, body meet on a young bucks is very defined/muscular;
On an older deer this all tends to run together;
Where the stomache meets the hind legs appears very tight on young deer
On older deer it hangs lower and appears much looser.

I'm sure there's a lot I'm forgetting when you've looked at thousands and thousands of pictures all these and more will become second nature.... Stick with it you'll get there. Just remember "all good things come from grace, grace comes from art, and art does not come easy".

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#6146396 - 01/21/16 09:28 AM Re: Aging a deer [Re: Slow Drifter]
DirtNapTET Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 11/08/13
Posts: 487
Loc: America
Originally Posted By: Slow Drifter
If he has long legs he's young. Never shoot a doe by herself. Best I got. Best of luck to you sir.


Never heard of not shooting a doe that is by herself.. Whats the theory behind that?
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