Ray Purdy, Jr. is you average American deer hunter. He loves to hunt deer. He loves to eat deer. And he enjoys spending time afield with family and friends. But just as importantly, he takes pride in managing the resource.
Several seasons ago, Purdy took a very old white-tailed doe. According to the cementum annuli tests, it was nearly 16 years old.
On the day of the hunt, Purdy watched numerous deer out feeding in the afternoon. None appeared to outsize the others until a giant doe came walking out. It was obvious by its body size and shape it had some age on it. Due to previous experiences, Purdy knew that older does would often enter the field after other deer were out feeding and at ease.
This doe acted her age, too. According to him, she was one of the smartest does he’d ever seen.
“My friends and I refer to does like these as stand checkers,” Purdy said. “Sometimes, you will see just their head and neck poking out of cover looking up at you in your stand. They have seen this show before.”
After the hunt, Purdy took a look at the jawbone. It was apparent this deer was old.
“I thought it was over 10, but [I was still] surprised at 15 ½ [years old],” Purdy said. “Another hunter took a doe on the same property during the same season that came back 20½ years old.”
Purdy has been involved in QDM for nearly 20 years. Like him, many understand that management is key. And when you help provide all of the resources a deer needs, it isn’t a shocker to see does still lactating and successfully rearing young at 15½ years old.
According to him, the doe still tasted very good despite its age and the meat was almost as tender as a younger doe.
Interestingly enough, according to both Purdy and Matt Ross of the QDMA, another hunter (who we were not able to reach for this article) killed a 20-year-old doe very close to where Purdy killed the 16-year-old matriarch. Needless to say, there are some old whitetails in that area. And whitetails can get much older than many hunters previously believed.
Whitetails make the hunting world go round. Josh Honeycutt, deer hunting editor and "Brow Tines and Backstrap" blogger, knows a fair bit about killing mature deer. He was raised up hunting the river bottoms of Kentucky. And he still hunts there—among other places—to this day.
Follow along as he shares his adventures, experiences and knowledge of the white-tailed deer.