Information for Hunters & Outfitters

You care, so find out!

Due to increased demand for individual hunter orders we are now processing hunter-submitted teeth in smaller monthly orders, instead of quarterly, guaranteeing faster results! When submitting teeth to the lab, please try to extract only the standard tooth type from the jawbone. Check out the information below to learn more about how to collect and submit teeth to us for processing.

Click here to download a cementum analysis order form. 

Standard Tooth Types

Our aging models are not only species-specific, but are also based on a standard tooth type.
Mixing of different tooth types in an order can cause error because of differences in eruption ages and cementum patterns.

Hoofed Mammals

Middle incisor teeth (I1) at the front of the jaw.

Bears

First premolar (PM1), located directly behind canine

Other Carnivores

Lower canine

Extracting the Teeth

Teeth are easily extracted from a freshly killed animal:

  1. Cut down through the gum tissues on either side of the tooth with a sharp knife, being careful not to cut into the root itself. 
  2. Grasp the top of the tooth with pliers and pull it out intact with a firm, twisting motion.
  3. Remove two teeth and allow to dry inside a labeled paper envelope; we will reserve one for a backup.

Important:

  • DO NOT break the root tip while removing the tooth.
  • DO NOT boil or bleach teeth; contact us if they are coming from a prepared skull.
  • DO NOT include any undried soft tissue (gum tissue, muscle, hide) with the tooth.
  • DO NOT send entire jawbones.
    • If jawbone has dried: soak in hot water (150-170°F), then extract the teeth.
  • DO NOT package in plastic, which prevents complete drying.

The root tip portion of the tooth contains the best cementum for aging, please preserve the full length of the tooth when extracting it from the jaw. 

A  ⇒  Full length tooth, ideal for processing
B  ⇒  Slight breakage at the tip, can still be processed
C  ⇒  Tooth too broken to process

The root tip portion of the tooth is indicated in red.

Watch these videos from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department for a walkthrough of how to extract teeth from ungulates and bears:

Shipping the Teeth

To prepare your sample for shipment to the laboratory:

 
  • Send dried teeth in paper envelopes that are grouped by species.
  • Mark each envelope with a short ID number or name and include a master inventory list that gives the tooth ID’s in the same order as the teeth are packaged in.
  • If there are many envelopes included, bundle them in groups to keep them in the correct order.
  • In a note or cover letter, indicate the harvest season. Include the exact date for each animal killed between February 1st and August 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.
Mail to:Matson’s Laboratory
135 Wooden Shoe Lane
Manhattan, MT  59741

Please note: It is very important to use a mailing container that is either a sturdy cardboard box or a well padded mailing envelope. Postal canceling machines will tear regular envelopes and the teeth will be lost.

Not sure what information to collect about your animal? Click on one of the links below to download our printable envelope!

One Per Page               Two Per Page

Aging Accuracy

Although we expect 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 errors for a larger sample of teeth tend to cancel, resulting in an 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.

Mule deer tooth section displaying "A" reliability.
Accuracy Differs Among Whitetail Deer Populations

Our analysis of whitetail deer is expected to have a typical accuracy of 80-85%. Accuracy varies in different populations, with those of southern and southeastern deer having characteristics that contribute to a lower accuracy. Cementum annuli characteristics are a primary factor in obtaining accurate age results from whitetail deer tooth sections. Teeth with the most distinct annuli that are deposited in the most regular pattern will be the 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 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, complexity is greater, which contributes to a greater analysis difficulty and lower accuracy.

I1 tooth section of a whitetail from a wild population; expected cementum age analysis accuracy 90-95%.
I1 tooth section of a whitetail from a supplementally fed population; expected cementum age analysis accuracy 80-85%.