aging a deer by jaw bone

Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,090 Moderator
I've seen several sites online that have diagrams that show typical jaws of 1.5, 2.5, etc deer.

My question... it seems like a mature FL deer living in a bunch of pine trees (on numerous occasions, I've watched WTD here eat small pine branches... yuck!) with no real good browse.. it seems like A) They are eating tougher food than a deer elsewhere, and B) They have to eat more of it to get required nutrition.

Wouldn't this mean that a wild piney woods deer would show more wear at 3.5 than a 3.5 year old deer on a lease in Michigan with clover next to a soybean field.

I've got a jaw bone pic I'll post tonight. I'm curious where you FL hunters would put him age wise based off the bone.
"Whatcha doin' in my waters?"

Replies

  • ap111ap111 Posts: 68 Greenhorn
    Wouldn't this mean that a wild piney woods deer would show more wear at 3.5 than a 3.5 year old deer on a lease in Michigan with clover next to a soybean field.

    .

    I am fairly certain you have answered your own question with the statement above. That would be my opinion also. I think a person that is used to aging deer in that specific geographic area would have a better, more accurate estimate on aging by jawbone than a person from another state or region.
  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,464 Admiral
    From what I'm told, the best way to determine age, once a deer gets all it's teeth, is by the dentin level and not the actual tooth wear.
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,290 Admiral
    JR is sort of right. It's not so much the wear but the level of cementum annuli left on the teeth. Cementum annuli is a deposit left around the base of the teeth that collects just below the gum line. Similar to counting rings on a tree, it's the most accurate wa aging deer over 2 1/2 years old.

    If a deer jaw has 4 or 5 teeth, his is 6 months ot 1 year old. If he has 5 teeth with the erruption of the 6th tooth, then he is between 1 to 1.5 years old. If the 6th tooth is mostly errupted to fully errupted, he is at least 1.5 years of age. To propoerly age any deer with fully errupted teeth (all 6) you have to look at the tricuspid (third tooth from the front with 3 points).

    The tricuspid receives more wear than any other tooth so it's very important in aging. If all points of the tricuspid are cupped, he is 1.5 years old. If the tricuspid is replaced by the adult tooth, which is a bicuspid, then he is 2.5 years old. 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 bicuspid after that means the deer is at least 3.5 years of age.

    From that point on, you need to look at the cementum annuli to tell the age of the deer. 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, or M1 molar, and cut a cross section of the tooth near the root to count the rings. In old deer or deer with excessive wear, sometimes the cementum annuli is visible without extraction and cross cutting. In most cases, it's not visible without cutting the tooth.

    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 but requires training and often controlled lab environment to be sure you are actually looking at growth rings and not absessed decay or other tooth discoloration.

    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.

    For these reasons, most serious game managers will 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.
    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: 8,090 Moderator
    Good read. That made quite a bit of sense.

    I'll get a pic of bone that I have and see if deer was at least 3.5
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • Walker DogWalker Dog Posts: 2,155 Captain
    Chuck is correct, using a combination of all aging techniques available to you will get you the closest to the true age.

    He has the jist of aging by cementum annuli correct, althoug a few details are different from what would be considered standard. Cementum annuli aging requires the use of a microscope for viewing the dentine annuli lines that are laid down each year around the root of the tooth. Although the M-1 tooth can be used in this technique, the I-1 tooth (the frontmost tooth on the left and right sides of the lower jaw) is what is normally used. Cost is usually about $25.00 to have a lab age your deer using this technique. One thing to keep in mind is that the closer an animal is to the equater, the less distinct and closer together their cementul annuli lines generally are, so the harder it is to discern the individual lines. This means that the accuracy rate of cementum annuli age estimates for deer from the everglades would tend to be lower than the accuracy rate of estimates using the same technique for Canadian deer.


    For on the ground population management purposes, aging by tooth wear is generally considered sufficiently accurate, because you're usually managing population trends rather than specific animals, and also because although your estimate may only be 50% accurate, the error is to the plus side AND to the minus side, so some but not all of the error cancels out. As with Cementum annuli estimates, generally errors with tooth wear and replacement estimates tend to be due to estimating the age to be lower than what it truely is..... even in sandy Florida where you might think that teeth would wear faster.
  • flydownflydown Posts: 6,464 Admiral
    huntmstr wrote: »
    JR is sort of right. It's not so much the wear but the level of cementum annuli left on the teeth. Cementum annuli is a deposit left around the base of the teeth that collects just below the gum line. Similar to counting rings on a tree, it's the most accurate wa aging deer over 2 1/2 years old.

    If a deer jaw has 4 or 5 teeth, his is 6 months ot 1 year old. If he has 5 teeth with the erruption of the 6th tooth, then he is between 1 to 1.5 years old. If the 6th tooth is mostly errupted to fully errupted, he is at least 1.5 years of age. To propoerly age any deer with fully errupted teeth (all 6) you have to look at the tricuspid (third tooth from the front with 3 points).

    The tricuspid receives more wear than any other tooth so it's very important in aging. If all points of the tricuspid are cupped, he is 1.5 years old. If the tricuspid is replaced by the adult tooth, which is a bicuspid, then he is 2.5 years old. 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 bicuspid after that means the deer is at least 3.5 years of age.

    From that point on, you need to look at the cementum annuli to tell the age of the deer. 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, or M1 molar, and cut a cross section of the tooth near the root to count the rings. In old deer or deer with excessive wear, sometimes the cementum annuli is visible without extraction and cross cutting. In most cases, it's not visible without cutting the tooth.

    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 but requires training and often controlled lab environment to be sure you are actually looking at growth rings and not absessed decay or other tooth discoloration.

    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.

    For these reasons, most serious game managers will 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.


    "You a ******* Genius Gump!"

    Sorry, one of my favorite lines form my favorite movie.
    Chuck, again you have taken it to the next level. I want to go on record as thanking you for all you do for us great unwashed.
    Your willingness to share your knowledge is much appreciated, and is what makes forums great. :beer
    DYING for me was the most HE could do. LIVING for HIM is the least I can do
  • tbsportsmantbsportsman Posts: 348 Deckhand
    i've wondered how to to this for a while
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,290 Admiral
    Sorry guys, Walker's correct that you needed a microscope. I should have mentioned that. Sometimes I forget not everyone can here my thoughts as I'm typing them.

    He and I will have to agree to disagree on the use of the I1 or the M1 tooth. The way I was trained we always used the M1 molar because you have more surface area to cut across and (usually but not always) clearer and more pronounced cementum annuli deposits. Also, I was trained a bazillion years ago when we were still bleeding fevers with leaches, so forgive me. Perhaps the I1 is the "new prefered tooth for aging", but frankly I don't know.
    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.
  • Crazy HorseCrazy Horse Posts: 498 Officer
    Does it really matter how old a deer is?If a buck looks good to you then just shoot the **** thing and enjoy it. Hunting is getting way to complicated anymore,I couldn't imagine watching a giant 10 pt buck and not shooting it because I wasn't sure if it was 4 or 5 yrs old.
  • huntmstrhuntmstr Posts: 6,290 Admiral
    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 mamage them to optimize their potential, thereby ensuring you will always have the best deer possible 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, yuo'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.

    But aging isn't just important to bucks. It's equally as important with does. 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.

    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.
    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: 8,090 Moderator
    Does it really matter how old a deer is?If a buck looks good to you then just shoot the **** thing and enjoy it. Hunting is getting way to complicated anymore,I couldn't imagine watching a giant 10 pt buck and not shooting it because I wasn't sure if it was 4 or 5 yrs old.

    Does it really matter? In most cases probably not. I mean I guess in theory you personally (or a club, or neighboring property owners) hunted a lare enough piece of property and hunted it HARD without any restraint you'd certainly see a negative impact in short order. Shoot every one year old deer you see and have a deer survey taken on the interior of your property in 5 or 6 years. See how many deer you've got. I don't imagine there would be many.

    I just posted out of curiosity as much as anything. I remember having read something about a jawbone as a aging tool only beng of significant worth if under circumstances (age of 3.5 and the rings once the tooth is cut and examined by someone with traning) but I couldn't remember what it was. Reason being, obviously teeth of deer are giong to wear differntly depending on lots of different variables.
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
  • Crazy HorseCrazy Horse Posts: 498 Officer
    I don't think anyone wants to shoot every deer off of their property,my point being is that way to many hunters,especially the new ones worry to much about stuff like that.Obviously in all living creatures the older they get the more their parts wear out.I remember hunting in Alabama 5 years ago all they worried about was pulling jawbones and trophy hunting.I never seen many deer at the skinning rack btw,just a lot of boring conversation.
  • Panhandler80Panhandler80 Posts: 8,090 Moderator
    Hey, I'm with ya all the way.

    I'm a new hunter (well, 5 or 6 years now anyway... still new compared to my lifelong fishing habit) and I hunt however the land owner / lease wants me to hunt! Your rules are my rules. Unfortuantely, it's not often that I get invited places and I haven't been a lease for a while... so I kind of get to make up my own rules.

    I have one piece of property that is 100% transition. It's only 40 acres and it's Long and Narrow EW... which is okay because you can get two stands on it with a N wind.

    However, by about September... I just DON'T have daytime pics. Period. Surrounding my property is a club of about 4,000 acres with 8 point or better, supplmental feed year round and food plots. They grow, hold and shoot some pretty deer.

    I occasionally get pics of their deer at midnight, but for almost the entire year, that's about it.

    From those two stands of mine, combined, I might see 3 or 4 deer a year.

    Now.. I know the population is healthy. I see the tracks, big and small. I see the pics at night. I see pictures of the deer that they shoot 1/2 mile away, etc.

    Guess what... when I see a DEER from one of those two stands on m private property... when that happens, do you think my first thought is jaw bone, or backstrap? I've never tried to eat a jaw bone, but I can't imagine its a good as that 1.5 year old backstrap when it comes out of the buttermilk and hits that hot grill... nice and pink in the middle over some taters and gravy! Yeah. Hungry now!
    "Whatcha doin' in my waters?"
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