Physical Characteristics for Age Estimation of Male White-tailed Deer in Southern Texas

Criteria for visually estimating age of live white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in the field are becoming more important as the popularity of non-traditional deer management programs increase. We measured gross Boone and Crockett Club (BCC) score, number of antler points, inside antler spread, main beam length, antler basal circumference, chest girth, stomach girth, shoulder height, head length, and interorbital width and evaluated which characteristics had the greatest potential for use as predictors of age for <766 live-captured males and live and dressed mass for <65 harvested males. Most antler measures differed (P < 0.05) for age classes 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, 4.5, and >5.5, while most body measures differed only for age classes 1.5 and >2.5. Multiple regression models incorporating gross BCC score and number of antler points, or gross BCC score, number of antler points, and stomach girth had highest R2 values. Percentage of each age class classified as unharvestable by various criteria within our data set is provided. Additional research is needed to test appropriateness, precision, and accuracy of these characteristics in the field.

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