Whitetail Deer Age Chart

The practice of harvesting white-tailed deer based on their age has recently picked up. Identifying and using a  deer age chart helps monitor deer populations and keep a broad range of ages among them.

Did you know that you can tell the age of a deer by simply looking at it, or even by studying its teeth?

This article will explain how to age deer by looking at their antlers, backs, hooves, teeth and more. It will also list a detailed whitetail deer age chart for your convenience.

Deer Aging

White-tailed deer, like humans, show signs of aging. Some of their bodily traits change throughout the seasons, but fall is usually the best time to age bucks since there’s noticeable neck swelling and tarsal staining.

Primarily, these are the attributes you need to be looking at if you want to quickly determine the deer’s age: the bodyweight of the deer, the thickness of the neck, the belly and how low it hangs, and whether or not the antlers extend outside the ears.

PRO TIP: Focus more on the body rather than the antlers themselves.

You can classify bucks into three age groups based on their physique and antler characteristics: young, mature, and older deer — the older the deer, the thicker the neck, and the lower the belly.

Many factors influence antler growth, so evaluating antler traits alone to predict a whitetail buck’s age is not recommended.

Deer Age Chart

 

Age Head Antlers Neck Back Belly Legs Glands
1.5 years Long and slender 20-30% of potential, inside ears No swelling, little muscular growth Slopes down from back to front No sagging Very long compared to their torso Lightly stained
2.5 years Still long and slender 50-60% of potential, near ears No swelling, slightly more muscular Slopes down from back to front No sagging Long compared to their torso Somewhat stained
3.5 years Long and thicker from the back 70-80% of potential, outside ears Much swelling Slopes down from back to front Tight belly line Matches well with body size Moderately stained
4.5 years Thicker than before 80-90% of potential Significant swelling Straight line across back Straight belly line Matches well with body size Heavily stained
5.5+ years Short and very thick 90-100% of potential Peak swelling Moderate sagging or more Extreme sagging Too short for their body Extremely stained

Aging Deer by Appearance

Look closely, and you’ll find the deer’s body easily tells its age. The head, antlers, belly, back, neck, legs, and tarsal glands are some of the best features to look at when trying to age whitetail bucks.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules to this aging method, here’s a breakdown of deer age as far as their looks are concerned:

1.5 Years-Old Deer

A 1.5-year-old buck will usually look like a young doe with antlers. The signs are long gangly legs, a narrow chest and stomach, and a long slim neck.

Their antlers will be easily noticeable compared to the rest of the herd. Their torsos (stomach, chest, and neck) are also not fully grown, making their legs look a little too long for their bodies. A 1.5-year-old deer has reached only about 20-30 percent of its overall antler development.

2.5 Year-Old Buck

The 2.5-year-old bucks have significantly bigger bodies than yearlings, but their legs are about the same length. Compare them to previous age groups, and you’ll find that they have smaller necks, although they may expand during the rut.

Bucks of 2.5 years have reached roughly 60 percent of their maximum antler size. During the rut, they gain muscle on their shoulders and experience minor swelling in their neck, but their stomach remains thin.

3.5 Year-Old Buck

3.5-year-old white-tailed deer are commonly referred to as “thoroughbred” due to their toned physical features. The buck develops a muscular body with a somewhat deeper chest than the rump and a taut stomach.

The neck starts to swell significantly, and the legs are finally proportionate to the rest of the body, not to mention the tarsal glands swell a little as well. 3.5 years old bucks have reached roughly 70-80 percent of their total antler size.

4.5 Year-Old Buck

A 4.5-year-old white-tailed deer is big and muscular, with taut skin and legs that appear too short for his body. The buck’s stomach sags, but the back is still straight. Their neck swells dramatically during the rut, and the body reaches physiological maturity. As for the antlers, they’re roughly at 90 percent of their total potential.

5.5+-Year-Old Buck

A 5.5-year-old buck has reached the pinnacle of its development — both muscular and skeletal. Now that the whitetail’s body is fully grown, more nutrients are accessible for antler growth. Bucks in this age group have around 95-100 percent of their prospective antlers.

A 5.5 years or older buck has a heavy body with a sagging belly, skin, and back. The brisket may drop as low as the stomach line, and the chest is deeper and broader. The neck is swollen and large, and the legs appear a little out of place compared to the rest of the body. Lastly, the tarsal glands are heavily stained.

Whitetail Deer Age Chart

 

Aging Deer by Tooth Wear

This approach examines the enamel (white outer layer) and dentine (dark inner layer) of the fourth molar of a whitetail deer. The following is a breakdown of deer age based on tooth development.

Fawn

A deer is categorized as a fawn if it has less than six teeth, and:

  • 3 to 4-month-old fawn: the first molar has either just started appearing or isn’t showing at all.
  • 4 to 6-month-old deer: the first molar is clearly visible but not the second.
  • 7 to 9-month-old deer: the second molar can be seen but not the third.

1.5 Year Old Deer Teeth

  • Six teeth: three molars and three premolars.
  • Tooth six has popped through and is visible above the gum line.
  • There are sharp points on the molars’ lingual crest.
  • There are three cusps on the third premolar.

2.5 Year Old Deer Teeth

  • All of the permanent molars and premolars have erupted.
  • The first molar’s cusps are relatively sharp or have minor wear, and the cusps of the first molar have minimal dentine.
  • Lingual crest’s enamel can be seen over the dentine.
  • Cusp’s enamel part is broader than the dentine.
  • Third molar’s third cusp is inclined to the lingual side of the jawbone.

3.5 Year Old Deer Teeth

  • There is minimal wear on the permanent teeth.
  • Dentine is now thicker than the enamel on the cusp of the first molar.
  • The sixth cheek tooth’s last cusp has flattened.
  • Dentine of the second molar is typically more narrow than the enamel.

4.5 Year Old Deer Teeth

  • The lingual crest of the first molar has disappeared.
  • Third molar’s cusps are still relatively sharp, with only minor wear.
  • Dentine of the first molar has grown to be twice as wide as the enamel.
  • The dentine of the second molar is larger than the enamel.
  • Third molar’s third cusp angles toward the buccal part of the jawbone.

5.5 Year Old Deer Teeth

  • There’s noticeable wear on all three molars.
  • The lingual crest on tooth four is worn out, while the lingual crest on tooth five is rounded.
  • Tooth 6 has a flat lingual crest.
  • Dentine of tooth 6 is now wider than the enamel.
  • The infundibulum is still visible.

Know What To Look For

We hope our whitetail deer age chart has given you the necessary know-how regarding aging whitetail deer. When it comes to aging whitetails, knowing what to look for is critical.

Aging deer is helpful for landowners and hunters who seek to produce mature bucks or attain QDM. Understanding the deer physique and its different stages of growth and the behavioral pattern of bucks will come in handy, especially when aging live bucks.

Deer Hunting Videos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

*