GEORGE WALLACE says:
I once met a man who could tell the age of a deer to within a couple of months from 100 yards or more but, setting BS aside, the only accurate way is to take a look at the teeth.
Some people say the condition of the teeth is a dead giveaway but it’s actually a very inaccurate way of doing it.
Depending on what a deer eats and the soil type in its locality, you can have young deer with teeth that are almost worn out or older deer with a very decent set of gnashers showing little wear.
Experts will cut through a tooth and then give the cross section a good polishing before placing it under a microscope and then count the annular rings – in much the same way as you would age a sawn tree.
With no microscope or emery paper to hand the best we can do is divide deer, as we do with people, into young, middle aged and old.
Antler development is NOT an accurate guide to age, so we can forget that, for a start.
The only reliable method is to cast a stockman’s eye over an animal, look at its body bulk, its gait and the way it carries itself and assess which age group it falls into.
A young animal, undisturbed, will carry its head high and at a jaunty angle and its movements will be quick, active and alert.
As it gets older, the head is carried lower, the body becomes heavier, more thickset, and the movements more deliberate.
And that, I’m afraid, is about the best we can do, short of tagging the calves, fawns or kids with a coloured ear-tag to denote the year they were born.