Have you ever wondered how much does a deer weigh? The accepted range of weight is;
- 150-300 Lbs for mature bucks.
- 100-200 Lbs for mature does.
- A fawn’s weight varies with age.
Deer weights have, however, been recorded to exceed the accepted ranges. Many methods have been suggested to give accurate weight estimations of any deer. The chest-girth method is one I discourage. Though very popular among many hunters, the method has three main shortcomings.
1. Deer Body Types Vary
Some deer are skinny with large girths. Others are full of meat but with smaller girths. The girth method does not take this into consideration. It assumes that there is a definite co-relation between girth and mass. The co-relation may be present but, not always.
Deer weight charts founded on the girth method give false readings on many occasions. We will look at the most accurate deer weight estimation techniques further below.
2. Deer Of The Same Age Tend To Share Chest-Girth Measurements
The chest girth of deer of the same age is relatively constant even across states. If you have hunted across states, you know the average deer weight by state is anything but constant. Another mechanism to determine deer weight should, therefore, be used. If the girth method must be used, the girth-charts should be state/ region specific to improve accuracy.
3. Skinny Deer Can Have Big Chest-Girths
I have seen skinny deer with chest girths much bigger than plumper deer. Application of the chest-girth method in such situations gives you wrong feedback. Since hunters rarely transport their harvests whole, we will have to contend with means to determine live weight from processed deer.
The chest-girth method is popular because it does not incorporate a lot of calculation. It can also be implemented right there on the field.
The best way to determine weight would be to weigh a whole deer. Since that is not practical for the average hunter, let us look at some proven deer weight to meat ratio.
How Much Does Deer Weigh: Meat to Weight Relationships
Blood, meat, and bone weight differ across different deer. The ratio of the blood weight to meat weight to the bone weight of all deer is relatively constant. Weight to meat ratio is, therefore a very accurate means of deer weight estimation. Let us begin by defining terms we will use.
i. Field Dressed Weight
The field-dressed weight is the weight of the harvested deer without the innards that is:
- a. The heart.
- b. Lungs.
- c. Reproductive cavity.
- d. Kidneys.
- e. Intestines and the like.
ii. Hanging Weight
The hanging weight is a further processed version of the field-dressed weight. The head, hide, some neck and inedible leg portions are removed.
iii. Edible Meat Weight
This is the hanging weight de-boned and fat portions removed. I will not concentrate on edible meat weight in the calculations. This weight can vary greatly depending on how deer was shot and processed. For example when the neck is well de-boned and innards, like the heart included in the meat, edible meat weight shoots up.
Mistakes like poor deer shot placements can also greatly affect the final edible meat yield.
iv. Live Weight
This weight is the weight of a living breathing deer. It is the weight we target with the question, “How much do deer weigh?”
The weight varies across sexes, age, environments, and deer species.
You will notice that whitetail deer weight charts differ from Elk weight charts. The difference is attributed to the fact that the two deer are of different species.
On environments, regions with enough food and sparsely populated deer produce heavy deer. Availability of food, therefore, determines how much does a deer weigh. Young fawns are also smaller and weigh less than adults. Finally, males are heavier than females of the same age.
1. Live Weight= Field Dressed Weight * 1.26
A 100 Lbs field dressed carcass belongs to a 126 Lbs deer. i.e
Live Weight = Field Dressed Weight * 1.26
Live Weight = 100 Lbs * 1.26
Live Weight = 126 Lbs.
2. Live Weight = Hanging Weight * 1.68
Let me walk you through how this formula came about.
Live Weight = Field Dressed Weight * 1.26
Field Dressed Weight= Hanging Weight * 1.33
Live Weight= Hanging Weight * 1.33 * 1.26 (Because Hanging Weight * 1.33= Field Dressed Weight)
Live Weight = Hanging Weight * 1.68 (1.33*1.26= 1.6758, rounded off to two decimal places 1.68)
If the Hanging Weight of a carcass is 100 Lbs, the live weight of the deer was approximately 168 Lbs.
Live Weight= Hanging Weight * 1.68
Live Weight = 100 Lbs * 1.68
Live Weight = 168 Lbs.
3. Live Weight = Edible Meat Weight * 2.27
Before I delve into this ratio, let me explain why you should be careful with this calculation. Edible meat from a deer is affected by too many factors. Imagine two exactly similar deer. In fact, let the two animals be perfect mirror images of each other. If the two deer are harvested and processed by different people, chances are that they will yield different amounts of edible meat.
This wide allowance for variation is why I am reluctant to add this ratio to my deer weight calculator. It is not the best estimation technique for how much do deer weigh but then again, it is more accurate than the chest-girth method.
Hanging Weight = Edible Meat Weight * 1.35 (Assuming good shot placement, processing, and deboning)
Live Weight = Hanging Weight * 1.68
Live Weight = Edible Meat Weight * 1.35 * 1.68 (Since Edible Meat Weight * 1.35 = Hanging Weight)
Live Weight = Edible Meat Weight * 2.26 ( 1.35* 1.68 = 2.268 Rounded to two decimal places =2.27)
If you have 50 Lbs of edible meat from a buck and you are wondering how much does a buck weigh, here is how to find out.
Live Weight = Edible Meat Weight * 2.27
Live Weight = 50 * 2.27
Live Weight = 113.5 Lbs.
That translates to meat yield being about 44% of the Live Weight which is very true. I have weighed freshly harvested deer and weighed the meat yielded. 44% give or take 1% in the very extreme is usually true.
I have heard of impractical attempts to find out how much does life weigh. Deer is put on sensitive scales as it breathes its last. Any weight discrepancy is suggested to be the weight of the soul or life. If that is the kind of weight you were after, keep on searching. Such research is far from being accepted into the mainstream circles. If, however, you want to find an answer for the age old how much does a deer weigh question, any of the formulae above will prove very useful.