I would say most hunter consider a mature deer to be around 3.5 to 4.5 years old, but how long do they really live. The answer will probably surprise you.
According to Deer and Deer Hunting, A doe was shot in Vermont’s youth deer season that was aged at 20.5 years old and ties the record from a deer shot in 2016.
The almost 21-year-old doe would have been born in the spring of 1998. Back then Bill Clinton was President and Britney Spears was first coming on the scene. Needless to say a lot has happened since then.
Deer & Deer Hunting Contributing Editor Leonard Lee Rue III is widely considered to be North America’s pioneer expert on deer behavior and physiology. He has documented ages in both wild and captive white-tailed deer dating back to the 1930s. Although several pen-raised whitetails achieved ages into their twenties, Rue’s oldest documented wild deer ranged from 16-1/2 years to 19-1/2 years. Ironically, these older deer were also from Vermont, and they were also females.
“Females of almost all species of mammals, including humans, just live longer,” said Rue. “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.”
I do feel a little sorry for this deer. She was almost legally aloud to buy a beer and now will never get the chance.