Determining Deer Age

posted on March 10, 2014
qa_ah2015_fs.jpg (5)

Q: I would like to learn how to age whitetail deer. How can it be done by examining the teeth?

A: By the time a whitetail is 2 years old it should have grown its full complement of permanent teeth. On each lower jawbone this includes the four small teeth at the front of the mouth and six much larger teeth—premolars and molars—at the rear.The premolars and molars give best evidence of age. Up to six or seven months, yearlings will have only one molar; after seven months another will erupt, and the third will appear at about 13 months. At 18 to 19 months, the first set of temporary premolars is replaced by permanent ones. If the premolars are relatively stain-free and worn less than adjacent molars, the deer is likely in the 1½-year-old range. If staining is comparable, wear on the crests of the third molar reveals a 2½- year-old or older animal.As deer reach 3½ and beyond, the teeth's sharp, distinct cusps get ground down, first becoming rounded, then smooth. Also, as a tooth's enamel wears, more and more of the brown inner material, the dentine, is exposed, especially on the inside toward the tongue. The more dentine exposure, the older the deer.  On a 3½-year-old, dentine showing on the first molar (1) only will be equal or greater the amount of remaining enamel.  At 4½, both the first and the second molars (1) and (2 ) will reveal dentine equal or greater than the enamel, but the last molar (3) still shows as much or more enamel. All three molars on a 5½-year-old exhibit well-worn enamel, and if the center of the first (1) is worn smooth and virtually enamel-free, the deer is 6½ or even older.

It should be noted, however, that the foregoing are general guidelines. Tooth wear will vary by individual, and judging age by this method takes considerable practice and experience. Even then it is not an exact science.

Determining deer age


IMG 6029 1
IMG 6029 1

Recipe: Antelope Kofta Kebab

Contributor Brad Fenson finds a good game replacement for lamb with his antelope kofta kebabs.

Taylor’s & Company Introduces 1875 Outlaw Revolver in 9mm

Taylor’s & Company has partnered with Uberti to create the 1875 Outlaw 9mm Revolver.

New for 2023: Primary Arms Optics SLx and GLx

Primary Arms Optics has released its inaugural pairs of binoculars: the SLx 10x42mm and GLx 10x42mm binoculars.

First Look: XS Sights Ghost Ring Sights for Henry Big Boy Carbines

XS Sights is offering its Ghost Ring sight sets for Henry Big Boy Carbine lever-action rifles chambered in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum.

New for 2023: GPO Spectra 4.5-27x50i SFP

The German Precision Optics (GPO) Spectra 4.5-27x50i SFP is built for those who hunt game in environments where shooting at extended ranges is often required.

#SundayGunday: Davidson’s Pietta 1873 Great Western II

Get a closer look at the Davidson’s Pietta 1873 Great Western II, the latest addition to our #SundayGunday series.


Get the best of American Hunter delivered to your inbox.