Pulling jawbones

In order to age both bucks and does, the deer’s jawbone must be removed.

As DMAP Cooperators will quickly learn, recording, delivering and assessing deer harvest data is crucial to program maintenance. Quality deer management cannot happen without essential data being collected and analyzed. Paramount among the deer harvest data fields is determining the ages of the deer taken on the DMAP property each season.

Currently aging deer is done by a certified biologist with the skills to inspect the amount of wear on the deer’s teeth to determine age. This requires that the jawbone is removed from each deer harvested, both bucks and does. There are a few tricks to extracting a deer’s jawbone, but once learned it becomes easier each time.

The deer jawbone can be removed by following these steps:

• Take all the other measurements from the deer and record the data on the jawbone card supplied by the MDWFP DMAP Coordinator.

• Insert the jawbone extractor between the jaw and the roof of the mouth and then, rotate the extractor to pry the mouth open.

• Use the rounded end of the jawbone extractor to separate the muscles and hide from the jawbone by forcing the extractor downward between the jawbone and cheek. This will take a moderate amount of force.

• Carefully cut the inner lip near the top of the jawbone between the front and back teeth. This step can be omitted if the deer will not be mounted by a taxidermist.

• Insert the jawbone extractor between the jaw and the roof of the mouth to pry open the mouth as previously described. Insert the clippers between the two bars of the extractor and cut the jawbone at the back of the mouth as far back as possible.

• Insert the rounded end of the jawbone extractor through the cut just made in the jawbone. Then push the jawbone through the loop end of the extractor with your hand. Pull the extractor toward the nose of the deer stopping at the front teeth.

• For a deer that is not going to be mounted, you may choose to pull the extractor completely under the jawbone and out the mouth breaking the bone at the front teeth.

• Cut the jawbone between the front and back teeth, but be careful not to cut the lip if the deer is to be mounted. Remove the jawbone.

• Using a sharp knife clean off any excess tissue and then attach the completed jawbone card with a pull tie. Store in a place where the jawbones can air dry in preparation for turning in once the season is over. Also be sure to record the jawbone data on the camp DMAP data sheets provided by the MDWFP and keep in a safe, secure place.

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