The only way to truly tell the age of a deer, is to examine the teeth.


Within a few days of birth deer have seven teeth in the upper and lower jaw.   These are Incisors, Canine and Premolars.   


The rear teeth, the molars, begin to erupt between 2 - 5 month with Molar 3 erupting between 18 - 24 months.  Therefore deer can be aged quite accurately up to about 3 years of age by tooth eruption.



Jaws aged to 2023



Of these 1000 deer only 21 were over ten years of age.



Of the mature bucks:-

6 yr old: 14 point       DS 141

6 yr old: 8 points       DS 166                                    10 yr old: 9 points                 DS 144

6 yr old: 8 points       DS 140                                    10 yr old: 4 points                 DS 66   

7 yr old: 8 points       DS 120                                    10 yr old: 5 inch spikes                           .  

7 yr old: 8 points       DS 167                                    11 yr old: 4 points

7 yr old: 11 points     DS 150                                    11 yr old: 3 inch spikes

7 yr old: 8 points       DS 150                                   11 yr old: 9 points                 DS 146

9 yr old: 4 points                                                         13 yr old: 4 points                 DS 65

11 yr old: spikes                                                            15 yr old: spikes


It would seem that bucks reach their peak potential at about 6 - 8 years of age and decline from 9 -10 years old.


 The results clearly indicate that Whitetail on Stewart Island do not live to 20 years of age as some writers would have us believe.


We prefer clean (preferably boiled or air dryed) jaws which can be sent to: 

Stewart Island Whitetail Research Group, PO Box 1588 Invercargill 9840

Jaws can also be left with  Ray 161 Mill Road South 1RD Invercargill  9871,  032163751  or John 9 Pipiri Street, Pegasus 7612  0276925338


Please ensure they are dry and wrapped in newspaper not plastic.  One side only is required.


We need to know, sex, block, date and hunter’s name and contact details.  We will advise you the results.

This is not a DoC project but one carried out by hunters wanting to learn a bit more about the whitetail deer we all enjoy hunting.  Please assist by returning as many jaws as possible, especially the very young ones.

We are keen to get as many jawbones as possible.  Please send clean jawbones (one side only will do).  Either boiled or air dryed is appreciated. 


It is essential we know which sex the deer was.  Mark each jaw with your own code and gender.  It is helpful to include any information about antler size with the bucks and any other observations you might like to add. We suspect many hunters don’t bother to send in jaws from fawns and yearlings as the age is obvious.  We would like your young deer as well as jaw size may give an indication of animal condition.




Copyright © 2011. All Rights Reserved.