Older deer jawbone example


5 year old buck +
Guys, I am curious if any of you have confirmed 3.5-4.5 and older jawbones that you can post a picture of. I recently had all my jawbones aged by an expert and was surprised to see most of what I thought were 4.5 year old deer were actually jaw boned aged at 3.5. I was just hoping a few of you might be able to chime in and offer some examples. I know location and type of soil play a factor but figure it can't hurt to compare anyhow.

As a side note, let me give you a little background about what really surprised me with these aging results. I am in Indiana and have hunted this ground with my father for the past 20 years. Without question, we are harvesting the top 10 percent of bucks we have on camera each year. Most of the time, we end up shooting the most mature deer we capture a picture of - not saying we are the best hunters ever, our ground is just that appealing. Our past harvests range from 180-220lbs field dressed and gross (total inches of antler) anywhere from 130-155. Pretty typical I would guess for a mature Indiana deer. If what our aging expert says is true, that the majority of our deer are only 3.5, than finding a 4.5 year old deer in my area would be an exceptional accomplishment. I am in ag country with very little cover - I am confident that if there is anything else out there to get a picture of it would eventually pass through my hunting grounds and have its picture taken. Point being, can there be a real possibility that 3.5 year old deer with the very occasional 4.5 year old is the oldest we can expect?

The stats were 17 total bucks harvested - 1 4.5 year old, 13 3.5 year old, and 3 2.5 year old

I am very curious to hear everyone's opinions. Thanks for discussing!
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Can you post a pic opf the jaw bone. It would help.
I have sent a dozen specimens or so to be cementum analized, & they usually end up aging out a year older than conventional tooth wear & replacement. I haven't figured out how to post pictures yet, but when I get home, if someone wants, I can email pics of 4.5-6.5 year old KS/MO jawbones.
Happy Thanksgiving
Thanks for the replies guys. I am on the road visiting with family for the holiday, but when I get home I can try and post a picture. MO/KS thank you for the offer. I'll send you a PM with my email address and if you find the time I would like to see a few of your jaws.
get those pics up, I read a Qdma article that those labs Are not always accurate either.
BOC - very interested in what gets posted. I am almost exactly in the same situation as you. I don't have 20 years, but I am at roughly 15. I fear that 3.5 is average and 4.5 is a rarity as well. I know my area has produced and can produce older deer but it is pretty rare. I am also in a very similar habitat condition as you. In my area cover is spread out and as such bucks have to move over several properties, cross several roads, and contend with multiple hunters - not a great situation for growing old deer.

The main thing I have is that in order to get 4 or 5 year old deer that means passing on 3 and 4 year old deer. Talk about a tough sell! To be sure I'm not sure I have the will-power to do it.

If I read between the lines of your post - you want to or are concerned about if your property can provide deer at the "next level" so to speak.
j-bird you're spot on reading between the lines. I thought I was taking it to the next level (or maybe even there) but these latest results kind of delivered me some mixed feelings. As you said, I am surrounded by major roads/highways, literally have hunters on all sides of my small acreage, a gun season that spans the rut - among many other things, this makes it very difficult for a buck to live to 4.5. They literally run out of places to hide. I do all that I can to give them the safe havens they need and it looks like it worked for one deer but the others I just can not get myself to pass at 3.5. After all, I am a deer hunter. I know I know, it's the age old predicament for us habitat managers. I guess I am ultimately searching for the answer to the question, is this the best I can consistently do? Is this what I have to learn to expect - 3.5 with the occasional 4.5? If so, I just need to come to terms with it. Thanks for letting me think out loud.
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Visual tooth wear is an educated guess beyond 2 1/2 yrs according to our state's deer biologists. As was previously stated to much variation on soil type and feeding preferences.
Visual tooth wear is an educated guess beyond 2 1/2 yrs according to our state's deer biologists. As was previously stated to much variation on soil type and feeding preferences.
I wonder why they use it than, at least the wi biologists do....
I wonder why they use it than, at least the wi biologists do....

Ours do as well, but they classify deer as fawns, 1 1/2 yr olds, 2 1/2 yrs old or older. When you ask for a age "guess" above 2 1/2 yrs they generally balk. In terms of a Game and Fish perspective I have been told that anything 2 1/2 yrs or older is considered mature and is irrelevant how mature from a management standpoint.
BOC - I had a perfect case today. My buddy took a nice 3 year old. Well within our guidelines, but you should have seen the look when I talked about the need to start passing these deer if we want to get to the 4 and 5 year olds - you would have thought I farted in church! We have reached a place where someone takes or has an opportunity to take a nice 3 or 4 year old nearly every year on my 150 acres. I consider this pretty damn successful - just like it sounds like your property and management has been. I truly think the only way to consistently get to that "next level" is to do more of the same of what we did to get to our current level. We pass 1 and 2 year olds to be fairly consistent on 3 year olds and an occasional 4 year old. To get to the "next level" that means passing these 3 and 4 year olds in hopes of getting to the 5 year olds.

I don't know if passing on 3 and 4 year olds alone will take us to where we want to be - to be honest, I doubt it will. I think it's going to take something extra. I think this is where a more widespread and collective situation may be needed - a cooperative. I'll be honest - it scares the hell out of me. Don't get me wrong - I know my neighbors and have a decent relationship with them. How do you sell someone else on an idea that it took years to accomplish on my property - imagine how many 3 & 4 year olds others will have to kill before they are ready to pass on those deer for something better! Maybe I'm wrong, but as long as we remain "islands" our resources and influences are very limited - at some point we will reach the limits of those resources. Once that happens we either embrace those limitations, or we have to want more and be willing to move outside our comfort zone in pursuit of "more". If you look at the "habitat bucket" and the lowest hole concept - I think we simply need a bigger bucket!

It will be interesting to see what others add on the topic.
j-bird I'm starting to like your style...you put in words what I feel much more eloquently!! Here comes some pictures of six different jawbones aged from 2.5-4.5.
20141129_092152.jpg 20141129_091630 (800x450).jpg 20141129_091735 (800x450).jpg
BOC - just curious, have you had the ages of the deer verified via cementum (spelling) method? Just thinking a second opinion may be helpful - not that I think its needed - I just like data. I don't have enough exp with tooth wear aging method to be of much assistance.

I would like to hear from some of the folks that have managed properties that have produced 5 year old bucks on a semi-frequent basis and see what has been successful for them.
Here are some examples ive got back from deerage.com & what the cementum anuli age was
20141130_153143.jpg 5.5 year old KS
20141130_153016.jpg 6.5 year old north MO
20141130_152703.jpg 7.5year old KS
I have not sent them out to deerage.com to have them done. I have quite a few and would like to get them all done. Just don't know if I can justify the couple hundred dollar cost. I'm afraid my curiosity will get the best of me though!
BOC, not all properties are realistically capable of growing/producing 4.5+ on anything remotely close to a consistent basis. Heck, many properties aren't well suited for growing bucks at all, without making majorly ridiculous changes (transforming almost all ag into cover, for example) and some aren't even capable of that. I can't tell you if that is your case or not. What I can say is that, for a good share of properties out there, yes, 3.5 with the rare 4.5+ is about as good as they can ever hope for. For a good number, even doing that is quite a stretch. Saying that doesn't sell memberships, products or services, but reality doesn't always make $.
Steve, I was hoping you would chime in....I was curious what your opinion would be on the matter. I thank you for your reply!
BOC - So now what? I'm curious.

This thread has been a bit of a revelation to me - not necessarily the information within, but some of the reflecting I have done in digesting some of the information and really looking at my own position.

Wait a minute! Beer, Boobs, deer, trucks, seed, guns, damn government! Yep now I'm back!!!!