Estimating Deer Weight From Field-dressed Weight

Most deer hunters field dress their game prior to bringing it in from the field. This process usually involves removing the entrails, reproductive tract, heart, lungs, diaphragm and part of the esophagus. As a result, the only weight many hunters obtain for their deer is a field-dressed weight, leaving the whole weight of their quarry unknown.

Figures 1, 2 and 3 will help hunters estimate the whole weight of a deer based on its field-dressed weight. These graphs were developed using data collected at the Noble Research Institute Wildlife Unit (NFWU) from 1982 to 2001 on over 200 deer harvested or collected during the months of October to January. The NFWU was located in south-central Oklahoma in Pontotoc, Hughes and Coal counties. We found slight differences in the predictive equations for fawns, yearlings and adults (2.5 years of age), but no difference for bucks and does within those age-classes. It is important to point out that differences may exist for deer in other parts of the country, but these equations should at least be applicable to deer in central and southeast Oklahoma and north-central Texas.

To obtain an estimate for a whole weight using the graph, simply locate the known field-dressed weight on the horizontal axis of the graph and draw a line straight up to where it intersects the predictive line for the appropriate age-class (solid black line). From that point, draw a horizontal line to the vertical axis. This line intersects the vertical axis at the estimated whole weight. For example, the estimated whole weight for a field-dressed deer weighing 105 pounds is 134 pounds (Figure 4). Based on our data, 95 percent of adult deer with 105-pound field-dressed weights would have whole weights between 126 and 141 pounds. An online calculator is available at noble.org/tools/ that allows you to determine whole or field-dressed weight estimates for white-tailed deer using the corresponding available weight.

We strongly recommend that individuals interested in managing deer collect age and weight information for all harvested animals as part of the recordkeeping process. Average weights by sex and age-class are useful in evaluating the success of a management program. These regression equations or the online calculator will help managers evaluate deer weights on a common basis.

Ken Gee
Retired Wildlife Research Specialist