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Aging by teeth/lab #8070579 11/30/20 11:07 PM
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I think I posted this some time back but it is worth seeing again IMO. Many folks use tooth wear to age deer - I think with the advent of protein the a deers teeth do not wear as much which makes tooth aging questionable. Even the lab test can be off.

The study below used experienced biologist to age deer via tooth wear and also used lab test - the accuracy of either is not very impressive. Note the older a deer gets the less accurate either method becomes.

For my money the best aging tool is a deers history. Trail cameras have allowed us to follow some deer for 3-4 years or more which gives a much better idea of what age a deer is.


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8070592 11/30/20 11:19 PM
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The annuli aging is only accurate in areas with extreme climate changes through the seasons.
The tooth aging lab at WG&F has been proven to be within 1 year on known aged deer. They did a study with Montana State I believe and our lab was more accurate. Montana had the known aged deer and sent the teeth to Wyoming for aging.
The animals must live in areas with extremes from summer to winter.
Down south the annuli method is not very accurate at all.

From the WG&F website:

Disclaimer
Tooth aging through cementum annuli analyses is a subjective science. The accuracy is based on the experience and skill of the analyst. At present the Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory has four trained and experienced cementum annuli analysts. When compared to known age samples the laboratory, on average, reports less than one year difference from the known age. One analyst reads all the teeth and the a second analyst will read and verify 45%-50% of the teeth. The laboratory aging of game teeth is considerably more accurate then field aging but we still recognize an error of plus or minus one year. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory at (307)766-5616.

Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8070597 11/30/20 11:24 PM
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Thanks tlk. Ive been interested in this for awhile. Ive heard of a couple studies with results that varied greatly. From what Ive learned I believe, like most, the tooth wear was all we had forever and its pretty much been proven to not be that accurate. Once again, from what I know and my opinion, the lab is more accurate than tooth wear but not totally accurate. The lab I use says THEY THINK they are 90% accurate. For those of you that may not know, the lab charges about $30 a deer to age. We have been sending to the lab for 3 years and we always try to estimate age by tooth wear as well. Of course we compare that to what we estimated when we saw the deer alive and after examining after killing. As you said, known history on the deer is the best way but thats not always very practical. We have a large place with about 25 cameras at feeder setups and we run them year round and we still have bucks show up ALL THE TIME that we have never seen before, much less have multiple year history on. Our intention is to continue to estimate age on the hoof as best we can and then compare that to tooth wear and lab aging. After enough years we will evaluate what we find. Of course, aging after death doesnt do much for that deer so aging after the kill is all about LEARNING HOW TO AGE ON THE HOOF.


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: Wytex] #8070603 11/30/20 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Wytex
The annuli aging is only accurate in areas with extreme climate changes through the seasons.
The tooth aging lab at WG&F has been proven to be within 1 year on known aged deer. They did a study with Montana State I believe and our lab was more accurate. Montana had the known aged deer and sent the teeth to Wyoming for aging.
The animals must live in areas with extremes from summer to winter.
Down south the annuli method is not very accurate at all.

From the WG&F website:

Disclaimer
Tooth aging through cementum annuli analyses is a subjective science. The accuracy is based on the experience and skill of the analyst. At present the Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory has four trained and experienced cementum annuli analysts. When compared to known age samples the laboratory, on average, reports less than one year difference from the known age. One analyst reads all the teeth and the a second analyst will read and verify 45%-50% of the teeth. The laboratory aging of game teeth is considerably more accurate then field aging but we still recognize an error of plus or minus one year. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory at (307)766-5616.


Interesting - so even though the South has some fairly extreme temperature differences (110 plus during summer in south Texas to 20 degrees in winter (not many of those days of course and not super extreme like Wyoming) -

so here is my question - why would extreme temperature variances affect the cementum annuli results and vice versa?


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8070605 11/30/20 11:31 PM
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Had a long discussion about this subject with Jack Waymire (Oklahoma Dept Wildife Conservation senior biologist). He advised that tooth wear was very location dependent. Deer that lived in the mountains and ate primarily acorns and browse had radically different wear patterns than bottoms-dwelling deer that ate corn and soybeans. Tooth wear aging is at best an educated guess, and two different biologist can come to different conclusions.

Interesting that even the labs are not that accurate.

Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: Adchunts] #8070606 11/30/20 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Adchunts
Had a long discussion about this subject with Jack Waymire (Oklahoma Dept Wildife Conservation senior biologist). He advised that tooth wear was very location dependent. Deer that lived in the mountains and ate primarily acorns and browse had radically different wear patterns than bottoms-dwelling deer that ate corn and soybeans. Tooth wear aging is at best an educated guess, and two different biologist can come to different conclusions.

Interesting that even the labs are not that accurate.


I have also heard that areas with sandy soils can affect tooth wear


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8070639 11/30/20 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by Adchunts
Had a long discussion about this subject with Jack Waymire (Oklahoma Dept Wildife Conservation senior biologist). He advised that tooth wear was very location dependent. Deer that lived in the mountains and ate primarily acorns and browse had radically different wear patterns than bottoms-dwelling deer that ate corn and soybeans. Tooth wear aging is at best an educated guess, and two different biologist can come to different conclusions.

Interesting that even the labs are not that accurate.


I have also heard that areas with sandy soils can affect tooth wear

I think lots of stuff can effect tooth wear. It seems logical, but maybe not true, that deer from a specific given area if either protein fed or not could after a time be fairly accurately aged by tooth wear. But a relative short ways away with different habitat and soil and rather protein or not could be different. In other words, once you learn your particular Ranch maybe you can use tooth wear. Same thing would go for lab aging to some extent. I have also heard that the temperature extremes can make a difference on the lab but cant remember exactly why. Something to do with why tree rings can be counted I believe.


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071354 12/01/20 02:10 PM
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very interesting TLK

I know where deer really eat protein hard it definitely has a big affect on wear.
We killed a deer we knew was at least 8 and his molars showed dead on a 6 year old on both sides.

And, your statement about knowing your deer and having history with them as the best aging tool couldn't be more true!!!


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071388 12/01/20 02:28 PM
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I wish I had saved the jaw, but we killed a cull last weekend, and the drapes definitely didn't match the curtains. I had the deer at 6+ on the hoof, and was shocked to see he might have had wear comparable to the 4
year old "standard".

soil types come into play, as well as feeding on a ranch. From what I know, this particular deer hadn't been seen before this year, meaning he wasn't at a feeder, and didn't come to road corn. I think we as hunters accelerate tooth wear to some degree with road feeding in general.

the north part of my lease is mainly sandy soil, the south and western areas have very high clay content. The deer on the north areas have wear more inline with the conventional aging wear measurements. The deer in the high clay soil areas tend to show 2 years less wear. I think you're absolutely right about the deer's history being the best way to age.

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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071396 12/01/20 02:32 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by Adchunts
Had a long discussion about this subject with Jack Waymire (Oklahoma Dept Wildife Conservation senior biologist). He advised that tooth wear was very location dependent. Deer that lived in the mountains and ate primarily acorns and browse had radically different wear patterns than bottoms-dwelling deer that ate corn and soybeans. Tooth wear aging is at best an educated guess, and two different biologist can come to different conclusions.

Interesting that even the labs are not that accurate.


I have also heard that areas with sandy soils can affect tooth wear


absolutely. Killing a deer in sand country along the coast (king/kenedy ranch areas) those deer show 7+ many times when they're 5-6 years old.

Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071489 12/01/20 03:23 PM
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We have sent off a few sets of teeth to be aged by the CA method. They seem to come back pretty close to what we had in mind.

Buck my dad shot 2 years ago we had 4 or 5 years of history with both in person and trail camera pictures. We had guessed him at 5.5+ STX said he thought 6 and CA came in at 6 as well. Looking at the teeth he could have easily looked 3-4 years old by wear. We hunt in loose sand, think beach dunes sand almost, and this deer had been picking corn out of it his whole life. I place very little faith in tooth wear.


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071669 12/01/20 05:19 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
Originally Posted by Wytex
The annuli aging is only accurate in areas with extreme climate changes through the seasons.
The tooth aging lab at WG&F has been proven to be within 1 year on known aged deer. They did a study with Montana State I believe and our lab was more accurate. Montana had the known aged deer and sent the teeth to Wyoming for aging.
The animals must live in areas with extremes from summer to winter.
Down south the annuli method is not very accurate at all.

From the WG&F website:

Disclaimer
Tooth aging through cementum annuli analyses is a subjective science. The accuracy is based on the experience and skill of the analyst. At present the Wyoming Game and Fish Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory has four trained and experienced cementum annuli analysts. When compared to known age samples the laboratory, on average, reports less than one year difference from the known age. One analyst reads all the teeth and the a second analyst will read and verify 45%-50% of the teeth. The laboratory aging of game teeth is considerably more accurate then field aging but we still recognize an error of plus or minus one year. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Wyoming Game and Fish Wildlife Forensic and Fish Health Laboratory at (307)766-5616.


Interesting - so even though the South has some fairly extreme temperature differences (110 plus during summer in south Texas to 20 degrees in winter (not many of those days of course and not super extreme like Wyoming) -

so here is my question - why would extreme temperature variances affect the cementum annuli results and vice versa?


I believe it is the change in diet that affects the annuli. Good question for the folks at our lab. I'll try to get an answer. We do have long winters, not just a few days of cold weather.
Montana sent teeth to our lab that they took from known aged deer, Montana also did a study and the WG&F lab was more accurate than their own lab for aging.

Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071712 12/01/20 06:00 PM
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I actually read the changes in cementum annuli had to do with stress, not temperature or nutrition (directly).

Many northern deer will go through the winter with not much good stuff to eat, couple that with a harsh winter and you have a significant stress effect on the deer's growth. Think of it inversely as tree rings, we can look at a tree ring and see how many years a tree has been around and we can also see years that were significant stressors on the tree by the lack of growth. Now think of cementum annuli being constantly laid down on the tooth, but in periods of significant stress the body stops producing the cementum and then it starts back up when the stressor leaves, the significant stressors in deers lives tends to follow winters in the north so the number of rings roughly equated the number of years alive. In the south, it isn't that predictable, as some winters are more mild and some places despite being cold will still have significant food sources to temper the environmental stress.

Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071729 12/01/20 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
I think I posted this some time back but it is worth seeing again IMO. Many folks use tooth wear to age deer - I think with the advent of protein the a deers teeth do not wear as much which makes tooth aging questionable. Even the lab test can be off.

The study below used experienced biologist to age deer via tooth wear and also used lab test - the accuracy of either is not very impressive. Note the older a deer gets the less accurate either method becomes.

For my money the best aging tool is a deers history. Trail cameras have allowed us to follow some deer for 3-4 years or more which gives a much better idea of what age a deer is.


[Linked Image]


Very interesting study. It basically says we can't trust at all a jawbone from anything above 3 yo, after that it becomes a wash....pretty much in line with the way I typically age deer. We can tell the yearlings, we can easily (usually) identify 2-3yo bucks, and then above that it can get dicey quick. Certainly there are some that show age more than others, but the method of "too young", "middle aged", and "old enough" works well for almost any management minded low fence deer property. Where it can get tricky with that method is when you start culling in different age classes, but even then, majority of places aren't doing that and then you can look at the nuances of different age classes.

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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071730 12/01/20 06:17 PM
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Their accuracy is pretty close, when you factor in the the age of the ones they where off on it's usually with in a year, making it way more accurate then tooth wear judgements.

Really only fail proof is fawn tagging. Even history most people don't even take note of a deer until 3.5 and very few even notice or document average 2.5 years


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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071734 12/01/20 06:20 PM
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BOBO for sure if there was a +\- 1 year variation in the numbers the numbers would be way higher, probably for all methods.

Part of the reason why when I give an age estimate for a deer from pics I always give a 2year window, 4-5yo, 5-6yo, 2-3yo....I hardly ever say this deer is 5.5yo....way too many variables to precisely put a single year number on it, unless it is known from pics.

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Originally Posted by BOBO the Clown
Even history most people don't even take not of a deer until 3.5 and very few even notice or document average 2.5 years

Very true, the only ones we build history with for years are the ones that are identifiable. Unique shape, abnormal amount of points etc. The latest one we kept track of for 5 years had 11 points + starting at 2.5 YO and was very recognizable compared to run of the mil deer.


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Originally Posted by Texas buckeye
BOBO for sure if there was a +\- 1 year variation in the numbers the numbers would be way higher, probably for all methods.

Part of the reason why when I give an age estimate for a deer from pics I always give a 2year window, 4-5yo, 5-6yo, 2-3yo....I hardly ever say this deer is 5.5yo....way too many variables to precisely put a single year number on it, unless it is known from pics.


I use to do the same, now I try to be less ambiguous by giving why.

I almost passed on a great buck this weekend because I thought he was 5.5 instead of 6.5. I took a closer look and made decision he was rutted down 6.5 year old and took him. Right after I shot, My little amigo told me that based off his yearly past history of him, he was 6.5. He had atleast 3 years of pictures. I'll send off a tooth when I get back from mule deer hunting.

I personally don't give an average deer under 3.5 a second look unless it has a physical identifier for future reference, if so then I'll take a picture.

Ironically I’m not a fan of trail camera either, at least for hunting after October


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The goal on our ranch/lease is 6 years or older on trophies - the most difficult call is always between 5 and 6 years old both on tooth wear and aging them on the hoof - if in doubt we do not shoot and try to err on the side of caution.

When we get our lab results back they typically are spot on or occasionally a year under or over what we aged him. Getting trail camera pics along with videos helps us track them over the years and is very helpful when trying to determine that fine line between 5 and 6


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Originally Posted by Texas buckeye
I actually read the changes in cementum annuli had to do with stress, not temperature or nutrition (directly).

Many northern deer will go through the winter with not much good stuff to eat, couple that with a harsh winter and you have a significant stress effect on the deer's growth. Think of it inversely as tree rings, we can look at a tree ring and see how many years a tree has been around and we can also see years that were significant stressors on the tree by the lack of growth. Now think of cementum annuli being constantly laid down on the tooth, but in periods of significant stress the body stops producing the cementum and then it starts back up when the stressor leaves, the significant stressors in deers lives tends to follow winters in the north so the number of rings roughly equated the number of years alive. In the south, it isn't that predictable, as some winters are more mild and some places despite being cold will still have significant food sources to temper the environmental stress.


Thanks Texas buckeye, you are right. Somewhere I read the study and I can't pull it up now.

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Originally Posted by BOBO the Clown
Originally Posted by Texas buckeye
BOBO for sure if there was a +\- 1 year variation in the numbers the numbers would be way higher, probably for all methods.

Part of the reason why when I give an age estimate for a deer from pics I always give a 2year window, 4-5yo, 5-6yo, 2-3yo....I hardly ever say this deer is 5.5yo....way too many variables to precisely put a single year number on it, unless it is known from pics.


I use to do the same, now I try to be less ambiguous by giving why.

I almost passed on a great buck this weekend because I thought he was 5.5 instead of 6.5. I took a closer look and made decision he was rutted down 6.5 year old and took him. Right after I shot, My little amigo told me that based off his yearly past history of him, he was 6.5. He had atleast 3 years of pictures. I'll send off a tooth when I get back from mule deer hunting.

I personally don't give an average deer under 3.5 a second look unless it has a physical identifier for future reference, if so then I'll take a picture.

Ironically I’m not a fan of trail camera either, at least after October



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Re: Aging by teeth/lab [Re: tlk] #8071851 12/01/20 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by tlk
The goal on our ranch/lease is 6 years or older on trophies - the most difficult call is always between 5 and 6 years old both on tooth wear and aging them on the hoof - if in doubt we do not shoot and try to err on the side of caution.

When we get our lab results back they typically are spot on or occasionally a year under or over what we aged him. Getting trail camera pics along with videos helps us track them over the years and is very helpful when trying to determine that fine line between 5 and 6


Based on the results coming off your lease, it is hard to argue your methods, not that I would nayway. Nothing wrong with letting them age.

Agree, the hard part is between 5 and 6. Esp for less experienced hunters like myself!

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I had a conversation the other day at the lease on age of deer based on teeth/jaw bone. I am no expert and can't age deer by jawbone with a gun to my head. I can do ok when I see one on the hoof for the most part but deer like people can be hard to tell there age. Most of us can get within a year or so.

Anyway, we had a deer killed last year that most of us thought was 5 1/2, two biologist and GW aged it at 4 1/2. My comment to the guys, I had a registered Quarter House years ago. I took him to the vet for something and Vet looked at his teeth and said, dang Billy how old is this horse. I knew the vet pretty well and said, your a big time A&M vet you tell me. He said, 12 or 14. Papers I had said 10. He said if thats the case he as been around a lot of sand and told me how much sand will wear down livestock teeth etc. I would think it would be the same for wildlife.

My point is, maybe a chance with all the sand we have in East Texas on our place, it think its possible maybe not dentin which they use as a guage to age, but teeth wear in general could be influenced by sand, grit etc.

It was something I thought of as far as sand grit. Also remember that old Quarter Horse I had, JC Poco Pine. He was a good horse, but he got old.


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Originally Posted by tlk
I think I posted this some time back but it is worth seeing again IMO. Many folks use tooth wear to age deer - I think with the advent of protein the a deers teeth do not wear as much which makes tooth aging questionable. Even the lab test can be off.

The study below used experienced biologist to age deer via tooth wear and also used lab test - the accuracy of either is not very impressive. Note the older a deer gets the less accurate either method becomes.

For my money the best aging tool is a deers history. Trail cameras have allowed us to follow some deer for 3-4 years or more which gives a much better idea of what age a deer is.


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Agree with you


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I'm for sure a skeptic of the sand showing increase age. Our deer eat day in and day out under feeders that look like this and road corn that looks like that and show very little wear, far less than what the parks and wildlife literature would suggest.

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