Jaw bones and deer age...

Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,089 Moderator
Down4's post on that nice buck he shot got me thinking. I'm sure this has been discussed before, but wouldn't it make sense that not all deer would wear teeth the same? This may be a no-brainer, but I got to thinking...

1. A deer with greater nutrition will chew less, so less wear. Means you over age a deer that chews more, and underage one that chews less.

2. A deer that has all together bigger bone structure will have a larger size jaw... underage small old deer and overage large boned young deer. Factor in #1 above and then you have a new variable.

With just these two points alone, I would assume that the jaw bone is not the end-all, be-all. Wouldn't you also need to factor in weight and local knowledge? I've seen plastic "jaw bones" of various sizes for sale on websites, but that seems like a load of crap. Too many variables, huh?

Granted, a jaw bone and weight goes a long way and is more than most folks bother with, but it seems to me like more could be done with relative ease. For example, rough measurement from known point on shoulder to hip, or something. That when compared to shoulder height would create a L/H ratio. Obviously a super long or tall deer would weigh more than one of the same age that lacked in either category, but if you took that known and then considered time of year while factoring in weight and jaw bone, well... just seems like it would help.

Of course it would take a lot of harvest data, but...
"Whatcha doin' in my waters?"

Replies

  • down4dacountdown4dacount Posts: 2,598 Captain
    Here you Pan80 . let's see what everyone thinks how old .
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    ShotKam Pro Staff
    Full moons make me crazy and I go out and kill deer . Come to think all moon phases do that to me
    Check out my videos http://www.youtube.com/user/Down4dacount1?feature=mhee
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  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,089 Moderator
    I'm not jaw bone expert, but based off what little I know, I would say it is a 2.5 year old. They are well formed, but no wear.

    Again, just what I THINK. I've never claimed to know much about the whole deal. Primary reason for my post was in order to ask if all deer age the same on the jaw regardless of where they are located. Seems hard to believe to me, that's all.
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • saltyseniorsaltysenior Posts: 868 Officer
    I'm not jaw bone expert, but based off what little I know, I would say it is a 1.5 year old. The teeth are well formed, but no wear. Also a very short jaw... which makes me think the bone has not finished growing.

    Again, just what I THINK. I've never claimed to know much about the whole deal. Primary reason for my post was in order to ask if all deer age the same on the jaw regardless of where they are located. Seems hard to believe to me, that's all.

    I beleive you are right......it boils down to protein and how much and what they have to chew to maintain a level of protein to survive.......the folks who are PAID to be experts on this might disagree....job security.
  • sknight88sknight88 Posts: 323 Officer
    I met a guy on a WMA while my buddys deer was being jaw boned age. He had done it for many many years and explained it. It was not onlywear etc, but certain teeth at a certain age etc. It sounded like pretty solid method of aging.
  • AllenRAllenR Posts: 2,702 Captain
    There's more wear on your thumb nails than on the deers teeth
  • down4dacountdown4dacount Posts: 2,598 Captain
    AllenR wrote: »
    There's more wear on your thumb nails than on the deers teeth
    :Spittingcoffee
    ShotKam Pro Staff
    Full moons make me crazy and I go out and kill deer . Come to think all moon phases do that to me
    Check out my videos http://www.youtube.com/user/Down4dacount1?feature=mhee
    [IMG][/img]
  • DONY 1DONY 1 Posts: 557 Officer
    AllenR wrote: »
    There's more wear on your thumb nails than on the deers teeth

    Hahahahahaha
    Don't cost nuttin to be nice
  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    With not a lot of dentin showing in the teeth, plenty of enamel and what looks to be fairly sharp ridges still, I'd say that deer is 2.5 as well.

    And to answer your initial question, a deer's diet and terrain make a difference in the wear. Really sandy soils will wear the teeth quicker than expected.
  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    First of three for my contribution to the jaw bones examples to guess on
  • james 14james 14 Posts: 3,001 Moderator
    I stand corrected.

    Good write up, Chuck.
  • Walker DogWalker Dog Posts: 2,155 Captain
    Down4Account's looks like an average 3.5 yr old. Omega's look 3.5, 5.5 and the last has an unusual 3rd molar, probably 4.5.

    The tooth wear and replacement method is very reliable on 0.5's, 1.5's and 2.5's but as a deer ages past that point wear becomes increasingly less reliable in age estimation with more tooth wear. If you call a deer 3.5, based on the standard wear pattern for that age class, then the likelyhood is he's at least that old but possibly older, if you say 4.5, based on the standard wear pattern for that age class then he's likely that old but has even more of a chance of being older, and on and on. In short, accuracy of age estimation decreases as the age of the deer increases with tooth wear tending to underrepresent the true age the older the deer gets (i. e. the more wear it shows on its jawbone). There are better techniques available for aging the teeth of deer in a lab that have higher accuracy, but tooth wear and replacement is still the best technique available in the field and is useful in managing populations, because looking at age estimates of multiple deer will tell you if the average age of harvested bucks and does is trending up, down or staying constant over time, if you have enough of them to look at. If you have management goals, that trend is what is really important to know.
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,290 Admiral
    Walker Dog wrote: »
    Down4Account's looks like an average 3.5 yr old.

    What did I tell you last night Ray? Did I nail it or what?

    For those of you who didn't read it, here's an article I wrote on aging with the pics to go along.
    Views from the Blind
    by
    Chuck Echenique

    Properly Aging your Whitetail
    It's getting close to deer season again and many of us have been spending the summer months tending food plots, fixing stands and feeding our deer al sorts of supplements in hopes of producing big bucks. But how do we know the deer we're shooting are of an age class that really allows us to exploit the potential of our deer herds?

    For the serious trophy manager, there are two key things you should learn to do. The first is aging your deer on the hoof. The second is aging your deer after the harvest. There are many tutorials and theories on how to age deer while living, but it's still not a fool proof method of guaging your deer's maturity.

    Determining the genetic characteristics, muscle defenition and age class of live deer in many parts of Florida can be a very difficult task. Given that Florida has primarily 4 huntable subspecies of deer (Flatwoods, Coastal, Virginia, and Mid-western), all of which overlap and interbreed. Learning to distinguish the characteristics you're looking for is certainly a tall order, even for the most well trained biologists.

    Today's deer hunter is better educated in his sport than ever before. Most of you have read numerous articles on how to age deer on the hoof, so I'll assume you have a pretty good grasp of what you're looking at when he steps out in front of you. Rather than hash out the same arguments over again on what age markers to look for when he's living, I'm going to concentrate on how to age your deer by his jaw after you've harvested him. After all, the true measure of a trophy is what you think it is, not what the measuring tape reads.

    First we need to become acustomed to how a deer's teeth grow and which teeth are present as he progresses in age. Once you understand that, we can move on to looking at wear patterns and other indicators of age.

    The truest and most accurate measure of a deer's age is the level of cementum annuli inside the teeth. Cementum annuli is a deposit left around the base of the teeth near the root that collects just below the gum line. Similar to counting rings on a tree, it's the most accurate way of aging deer over 2 1/2 years old.

    Take a look at the picture below. The first picture shows the deer has 4 teeth with the erruption of the 5th tooth. This deer is 6 months to 1 year old.

    In the second picture, he has 5 teeth with the erruption of the 6th tooth, making him between 1 to 1.5 years old. The tricuspid (3rd tooth from the front) is well worn indicating he is just under 1.5 yrs old. If that same tooth is replaced with a barely errupted bicuspid, he is just over 1.5 yrs old.

    In the 3rd picture the 6th tooth is mostly errupted to fully errupted with a fully developed bicuspid. This means he is at least 2.5 years of age. The tricuspid is the first tooth replaced by a permanent adult bicuspid (2 points). Whitetails do not have a fully developed bicuspid as their 3rd tooth until they reach 2.5 years of age. If the cusps are sharp, he's 2.5 years old. Any significant wear on the 3rd and 4th teeth after that means the deer is at least 3.5 years of age. Further, you look at the cusp on the back molar to determin further aging at that point.

    Looking at the 4th picture, you'll see the wear on the rear cusp and a widening of the enamil on the 4th tooth. The amount of wear will differ given the animals diet and the terrain in which he lives. In most cases, if there is no significant wear, the deer will be 3.5 yrs old.



    Once a deer reaches 3.5 years of age, it becomes very difficult to be accurate using the wear pattern of his teeth to age him. Things such as the amount of sand or woody materials in a deer's diet can cause teeth to be worn down at a faster rate than deer living in areas with diets consisteing of agricultural foods and softer soils. What may appear to be a 7 year old deer in one area could in fact be a 5 year old in others based on wear pattern alone.

    In order to be certain of your deer's age, you need to look at the cementum annuli. Even in areas where deer consume woody plants or grind large amounts of sand in their mouths while foraging, while tooth wear may be more sever, the cementum annuli will remain consistent. In order to measure these growth rings, you need to remove the 4th tooth from the front and cut a cross section of the tooth near the root to count the rings. Inspecting the growth rings can only be done with a microscope. There are many labs online that offer this service for a nominal fee (around $25 per jaw).

    You can use the wear pattern provided in many diagrams and field check stations, but they are less than 50% accurate. The only thing you know for sure is that the deer is at least 3.5 years old or older. Reading the cementum annuli however is about 85% accurate. It requires training and the use of a controlled lab environment to be sure you are actually looking at growth rings and not absessed decay or other tooth discoloration. There is no way to look at a worn tooth and count the cementum annuli with your naked eye.

    Learning to age a deer on the hoof by muscle defenition and body characteristics in conjunction with tooth wear patters brings you closer to accurate, but it's still not the best method. Only the cementum annuli study will give you the truest results of your deer's age.

    For these reasons, most serious game managers will collect jaw bones, teach their hunters to age deer live and tell them to harvest only those bucks which meet the physical criteria for an age class of 3.5 yrs or older. By that point, the buck has had a chance to mature to a reasonable extent and to pass along his genes to future generations while optimizing the health of the over-all deer herd.

    I urge those of you who are serious about your deer management to collect the jaws from not only your bucks, but your does as well. Maintaining a doe herd with an average age between of 3.5-5.5 yrs of age ensures better fawning rates and helps to maximize your herd numbers. Mature does between those ages will usually produce twins so long as their nutrition is optimized. If your median doe age drops, then you've got too many young does that are not producing faws like they should. If the age class is too old, you need to lay off shooting does and be more selective of harvest until you reach a good balance.

    It's not about wating until a deer is of a certain age to shoot him. It's about managing the deer on your property and finding out what age class your mature bucks are so that you better understand the over-all health of your deer herd. If you understand the age classes of the deer on your land, you can better manage them to optimize their potential, thereby ensuring you will always have the best possible deer to harvest.

    For instance, let's say you're seeing lots of 8 pts & 10 pts on your land and you harvest some. By getting their age classification, you can see what the make up of the herd is for those bucks.

    If you find that many of them are only 2.5 to 3.5 yrs of age, you've just learned several valuable pieces of information. First, you know that the genetic potential in deer is good. Second, you know that since your deer are developing good racks at early ages, you can be more selective and have the potential of growing great trophies.

    Conversly, if you're age class is over 4.5 yrs of age, you've learned that it takes a significant investment of time to produce racked bucks and you can alter their nutrient intake to enhance antler development.
    In the management game, every piece of information you can gather only helps you to establish the best quality game you can for a given parcel of land. Like everything in life, knowledge is power.

    Good luck this hunting season and remember to practice safe hunting. Always wear your safety system. Always tell someone when and where you're hunting. Try not to hunt alone. And whenever possible, take a kid to the woods with you. I hope to see you all out in the woods enjoying all our great state has to offer. God bless!
    Bushnell, Primos and Final Approach Pro Staff. Proud member of the Fab Five, Big Leaugers and Bobble Head 4.

    I had you pissed off at hello.
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,089 Moderator
    So Down4's deer was what based off pictures?

    Looks like a permanent bicuspid up front, but I'm not sure of stage of cusp in back.
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,290 Admiral
    His deer was a classic 3.5. No more no less. It's doubtful it was any older due to what we know about the deer in that area and the wear patterns on teeth due to sand content in the soil there. Had it been older than 3.5, there would have been more enamel than dentin showing in the 4th, 5th and 6th tooth, as well as significant blunting of the cusps on those same teeth. The sharpness of the cusps, the relative equal amount of dentin to enamel and the lack of wear on the first bicuspid (third tooth) make him clearly a 3.5 yr old buck for that region.

    Put it this way, I would put serious money on it and I'm not a gambler.
    Bushnell, Primos and Final Approach Pro Staff. Proud member of the Fab Five, Big Leaugers and Bobble Head 4.

    I had you pissed off at hello.
  • Lc-hunter86Lc-hunter86 Posts: 2,927 Captain
    Here you Pan80 . let's see what everyone thinks how old .
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    Yup 3.5
  • DropTine797DropTine797 Posts: 681 Officer
    Late born straight 4

    I think this deer was from a doe that got missed then missed again and bred super late. His first year he probably had a crappy spiked rack and his second year he was maybe a small borderline legal or legal buck. He had 2 years to watch his buddies die and got smart. His 3rd year he was a nice buck but did not get killed. Why? Well there's only a 40 yard gap he travels where he could be seen. The rest of the time he was in thick feeding or in thick bedding. During rut he probably came out a little but when he felt pressure he went right back to his antics. This year Ray just happened to look right when he was crossing and then set up right on him and POW.

    I killed a 9 point this season that I really had a problem with calling 2.5. He had quite a bit mass and a double brow with a starting split. I know antlers aren't a good way to age a deer but get this; his jaw was right in the middle between 2.5 and 3.5. I talked it over with a few people and came up with the theory that he was a late born 3. To further prove that, I have a jaw from a 2.5 out of a similar area that shows less wear than the 9. Also the skull of the 9 is bigger than the 2.5 year old. I think Rays deer was in the same situation but just lived another year.
    Seven down, Eight to go.
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