Age-Old Question about White-tailed Deer

Have you ever wondered about the age of wild white-tailed deer? One of our biologists recounts some surprising recent discoveries in this blog post.

A few months ago I told you the story of Doe #151 that was spotted in a trail camera picture. After a little investigating, it was confirmed that this doe was 13.5 years old – tagged as a fawn in 2001 in the Quehanna Wild Area. Amazing and rare, right? Well, maybe not. 

I received a call a couple of weeks ago regarding another tagged doe that was harvested during the muzzleloader season. Data records showed that we first met this lovely lady in March 2003 not far from Echo, Pa. in Armstrong County. If she was tagged as a fawn, she would have been 12.5 years old when she was harvested. However, she was tagged as an adult. With no way to confirm her birth year, her minimum age would have been 13.5 years old.

But wait, there is more! A colleague received a report of an ear-tagged deer regularly visiting someone’s backyard near Kittanning. Are you ready? This doe was tagged just a few hundred yards away from there in February 2003 as an adult, which means she is closing in on her 14th birthday this spring. That is a minimum age for this girl. That means that we received two phone calls in less than a week of two does that were tagged a month apart in Armstrong County over a decade ago.

Our lovely lady from Echo won’t be getting any older but her “sister” is still keeping it real in Armstrong County. Ms. 151 may still be out there, too. That makes three confirmed reports of does in the last four months that are 13.5 years old from two different areas. Maybe I should start playing the lottery.

-J.T. Fleegle

Wildlife Biologist, Deer & Elk Section

Pennsylvania Game Commission

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