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Aging Your Deer

Deer build a new layer called cementum on their teeth each year, much like the annual rings of a tree. By freezing a tooth, a biologist can slice off a thin layer and determine the exact age of the deer. Hunters can estimate the age of deer they take by evaluating replacement and wear of teeth on the lower jaw. Both mule deer and whitetails can be aged by this method.

To check replacement and wear, you will need to slit the check bone to expose the teeth on the lower jaw.

Fawns

Fawn teeth.

Fawn Teeth—Only one molar.

Fawns have an incomplete set of teeth with three premolars and one molar on each side of the lower jaw.

Yearling

Yearling teeth.

Yearling Teeth—Premolars badly worn. Third premolar with three crowns.

A yearling (1.5 years old in the fall) will have three badly worn premolars. These are temporary teeth and will be replaced next summer. The third premolar which has three crowns is also characteristic of a yearling. When replaced, this tooth will have only two crowns.

2-Year Old

2 year old teeth.

2 Year Old Teeth- New premolars clean and unstained. Complete set of permanent teeth.

The 2.5 year old deer has a full set of permanent teeth. These are characterized by clean, unstained new premolars and molars with sharp, pointed crowns showing little wear.

Mature Deer

Mature teeth (3-7 years old).

Mature Teeth (3-7 years old)-Some tooth wear. Few teeth with pointed crowns.

Mature teeth (8 years old).

Mature Teeth (8+ years old)-Teeth badly worn. No crowns. Teeth are flat and approaching gum level.

A mature deer has 20 teeth in its lower jaw. There are eight incisors, six premolars, and six molars. From here on the age of your deer is determined by the relative amount of wear on the teeth. A mature deer (3-7 years old) has teeth that are still in good condition, showing wear, but some still have pointed crowns. In the mature old class (8 years or older) the teeth will be worn almost flat, sometimes nearly to the gums.