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How to Age a Deer?

Print the Deer Aging Field Guide

Every year during opening weekend of firearms season, biologists with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) show up at check stations around the state to compile information regarding the age and sex structure of that weekend's deer harvest. This information provides a valuable sample for determining how the state's deer population has changed since the previous hunting season. Determining a deer's sex is simple enough, but aging a deer requires special training and knowledge of when a deer's milk teeth (baby teeth) are replaced by permanent teeth, and how the teeth wear throughout time. Deer older than yearlings are aged through wear of the cusps closest to the tongue on the cheek teeth. By looking at characteristic patterns of teeth replacement and wear, biologists can estimate the age of your harvested deer.

The following information is being provided by the IDNR for hunters to use as a tool in the field to determine the age of their deer. Before continuing, it is necessary to outline the terminology that will be discussed.

  • Premolars- teeth 1, 2, and 3, used for cutting food
  • Molars- teeth 4, 5, and 6, used for grinding food
  • Enamel- the hard, white outer surface of the tooth
  • Dentine- the soft, brown inner core of the tooth
  • Infundibulum- hollow portion in the middle of the tooth, often contains food residue
  • Tartar- brown staining on outside of teeth

Deer Tooth Diagram
Deer Jaw Diagram