How Long Do Deer Live In The Wild?

head bobIf you shoot a 4- or 5-year-old deer you’ve tagged an old one, right? Well, that deer would be considered mature, but it could have lived longer, possibly a lot longer.

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

But what about the wild whitetails that we hunt? Well, individual animals live much longer than you think. Recent data from Pennsylvania confirms 3 does to be at least 13.5 years old! One ear-tagged doe showed up on a trail camera; another was shot by a hunter in muzzleloader season; and a third has been spotted in a person’s backyard. Biologists captured, tagged, recorded and released all three back into the wild in 2003.

That a doe could live to 13 or 14 with all the hunting pressure, coyotes, cars and tough winters in Pennsylvania is yet another testament as to how amazing whitetails are!

BTW, just like people, does (both captive and wild) have a longer average lifespan than the bucks.


7 thoughts on “How Long Do Deer Live In The Wild?

  1. Husband usually dies first because they want to! Wonder why the bucks do? I mean, com’on. They get to chase the girls & fight a few other guys now & then and then just handle their own business the rest of the year? Flawless!

  2. Now that 4 or 5 year old buck sounds pretty tender compared to a 14 year old doe.

  3. yes, I was wondering about that, the guy who shot the 14-year-old doe w/muzzleloader last season–good eating or a little tough?

    • A crock pot will make an old work boot tender. Might have to a beer to the flavor, though.

  4. Back in 2013 I was lucky enough to harvest a 12pt buck in northern Maine that was 11 years old. That was straight from the Maine wildlife and fisheries dept, they extract a tooth at check station and do dna aging/count rings on tooth, something like that to determine age. That’s pretty impressive to live that long with N-Maine winters/predictors. The buck hooves were half worn off and teeth were almost down to gums, my guess in the field was 8yrs so I was close. Whitetail are an amazing creature how they adapt to environment and will to survive.

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