What Is The Lifespan of Whitetail Deer?

dom doeTwo of the most amazing facts from the 2018 deer season:

A young hunter in Vermont shot a wild doe that, according to a tooth-wear analysis, was 20 years old!

And another hunter in Vermont killed a 12-year-old buck!

Which begs the question: How long do deer live?

In captivity, whitetail does have been documented to live 18 to 25 years, and bucks 14 years.

In the wild, where hunters consider a 5-year-old buck to be an old one, deer have the capability to live longer than you think.

A doe in Louisiana was aged at 21 1/2 years.

Recent data from Pennsylvania confirms 3 wild does to be at least 13.5 years old.

Interestingly, other does from Vermont in past seasons have been documented at 16 to 20 years. (My theory is that deer up there live so long because there are relatively few deer in the state, 130,000 according to recent estimates; there are relatively few deer hunters; and not as many deer are killed by cars in Vermont as in other states.)  

Noted whitetail researcher Leonard Lee Rue III documented ages in both wild and captive deer dating back to the 1930s. Rue’s oldest documented wild deer ranged from 16-1/2 years to 19-1/2 years.

“Females of almost all species of mammals, including humans, just live longer,” he said. “The males of most species are usually 20 percent larger than the females. Perhaps males are worn out sooner by this extra weight and the extra food that has to be eaten and processed to achieve and maintain this weight.”

 

2 thoughts on “What Is The Lifespan of Whitetail Deer?

  1. Couldn’t imagine eating a deer 15 – 20 years old. Throw some spices on it and you got some instant jerky!

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