For Private Hunter, Outfitter, and Hunting Club Clients
Matson's Lab will process teeth for hunters, outfitters, hunt clubs, and game farms only when the animals are deer, elk, pronghorn, or moose harvested in the U.S. and mailed to Matson's Lab from a U.S. address.
Minimum charge is $75.00. This will cover processing and aging for 1-5 teeth. For quantities greater than 5 teeth, the charge is $75.00 plus $12.50 for each additional tooth beyond the first five samples. (For example, processing and aging of 6 teeth would cost $87.50) Microscope slides will be stored at the lab as they are now. The service is available only for clients in the U.S.
Processing charges for samples of 31 or more teeth will be according to our regular price schedule. However, the game farm or hunt club with this larger sample should send it all at once, each year, and in order to receive timely results must schedule processing at least 1 year in advance.
Please include a check or money order for the correct amount payable to Matson's Laboratory LLC.
Annual processing schedule:
Ages for tooth samples received in the lab by January 15 can be returned by late March.
Samples received after January 15th will go into the second processing cycle. Ages for tooth samples received in the lab by April 15th will be returned by late June.
Samples received after April 15th will go into the third processing cycle. Ages for samples received in the lab by July 15th will be returned by late September.
Samples received after July 15th will go into the fourth and final annual processing cycle. Ages for samples received in the lab by October 15th will be returned by late December.
Although we expect age analysis accuracy to be generally high for most mammals hunted in North America, errors are also expected. The best application of cementum age analysis is for wildlife management because analysis errors for a larger sample of teeth tend to cancel, resulting in a highly accurate picture of the overall age distribution for the population of interest.
Individual hunters, on the other hand, are more interested in the single result for their harvested animal. Our cementum age with an "A" reliability can be expected to have the highest accuracy, although this result can also be in error. Errors are unavoidable when the annual layers are so structured that even the most careful count will be incorrect.
In a group of teeth from animals harvested by 20 hunters, for example, it should be expected that perhaps 2 or 3 will be incorrect with the most frequent error size being 1 year.
Expected Accuracy Differs Among Whitetail Deer Populations
Matson's Lab cementum age analysis for whitetail deer is expected to have a typical accuracy of 80-85%, an expectation that results from test analyses of known age deer teeth. Accuracy varies among different populations, with those of southern and southeastern deer having cementum characteristics likely contributing to a lower accuracy. When aging errors occur, they are most typically 1 year in size.
Cementum annuli characteristics are a primary factor in obtaining accurate cementum age analysis results from whitetail deer tooth sections. Teeth with the most distinct annuli that are deposited in the most regular pattern will be most accurately aged.
Annuli are normally complex, having more than a single annual component. A whitetail deer from a northern region typically has annuli with major and minor components that occur in a regular pattern of cementum deposition. In deer populations that are supplementally fed to produce more robust antlers and greater body size, cementum annulus complexity and irregularity of deposition are greater. These characteristics contribute to a greater age analysis difficulty and lower accuracy.
Please extract only the standard tooth type from the jawbone. For deer, pronghorn, elk, and other cloven hoofed animals hunted in North America these are the middle incisor teeth (central incisor, I1) at the front of the jaw. They are identified as I1 (left and right).
Extracting the Teeth
The teeth are easily extracted from the freshly killed hoofed animal. First, cut down through the gum tissue on either side of the root with a thin-bladed sharp knife. Then, carefully grasp the top of the tooth with pliers and pull it out intact with a firm, twisting motion. It is important not to cut into the root itself, but to only loosen the soft tissue that holds the root in place. Send both the left and right I1, and we will reserve one tooth for a backup.
We need the entire, intact root to conduct the age analysis. If the jawbone has dried, soften it by soaking in hot water at 150-170 degrees F and then carefully extract the intact tooth as described above.
Important: Please do not send entire jawbones for analysis. Please do not include any soft tissue (gum tissue, muscle, hide) with the tooth. Teeth do not need special handling to store them for a few weeks or months while a sample is prepared for sending to the lab; just allow them to fully dry inside a labeled paper envelope (do not package in plastic, which prevents complete drying).
Shipping the Teeth
Please send teeth dried and in paper envelopes that are grouped by species. Clearly mark each envelope with a short sequential ID number and include a master inventory list that gives the tooth identification numbers in the same serial order as the teeth are packaged in. If there are many tooth envelopes included, bundle them together in groups to keep them in correct serial order. In a note or cover letter, indicate the harvest season. Include the exact date for each animal killed between Feb. 1st and Aug. 31st. If you could not successfully collect the correct tooth, please identify the tooth you are sending or include a diagram of where the tooth was located in the jaw.
It is very important to use a mailing container that is either a sturdy cardboard box or a well padded mailing envelope. Otherwise, postal canceling machines will tear regular envelopes and the teeth will be lost.