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Illinois Outdoors

Kevin Chapman of Blue Mound measures a buck at the 2008 Illinois Deer & Turkey Classic in Bloomington.

Not all antlers measure up

September 21, 2008 at 01:00 AM


Deer scoring details

Scoring hunting trophies dates to 1932 when the Boone and Crockett Club published its first records book. Boone and Crockett was founded in part by hunters hoping to record information about species of North American big game thought to be vanishing. Instead of vanishing, many big game species are flourishing today — most notably whitetail deer. To qualify for Boone & Crockett, trophies must meet minimum standards. The minimum for whitetail deer with typical racks is 160 inches for the awards book and 170 inches for the “Records of North American Big Game” edition. Non-typical minimums are 185 inches and 195 inches, respectively. Bowhunters can also enter bucks with The Pope and Young Club, founded in 1961 to promote bowhunting. For Pope and Young, the minimum score for a typical deer is 125 inches and 155 inches for non-typical. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has a Big Buck Recognition Program. Deer taken by firearm must score at least 140 inches typical, 160 non-typical. Deer taken by bow or crossbow must score at least 115 inches typical, 130 non-typical. All three programs have scoresheets on their Web sites.

If there isn’t already enough disappointment in deer-hunting to go around, Tim Walmsley says just stick around. There’s more.

Let’s just say that for once, the big one did not get away. In fact, a buck with an impressive rack strolls into a clearing within sight of a hunter’s tree stand.

And no sooner is the deer on the ground then the back-slapping begins. The guide, the outfitter and everyone involved all measure the antlers and declare it one for the record books.

Then it’s taken to Walmsley for the final word.

“It happens all the time — these poor guys,” said Walmsley. “Sometimes I feel sorry for them. The outfitter or taxidermist told them this or that.”

What Walmsley is trying to say is that scoring a deer’s antlers is a little like opening the paycheck every two weeks. The first numbers look good, but the amount left to spend leaves something to be desired.

That’s because the initial numbers are a gross score. To get at the real score, think of how Olympic gymnastics is judged. Start off with a perfect score and then take away bit by bit for little mistakes and imperfections.

He says deer often score 20 to 25 inches smaller than the gross score — the one used to initially boost a deer-hunter’s confidence.

“The biggest mistake they make is when they add up all the points and then come out with a gross score,” says Walmsley. “And they think they’ve got this huge deer.
“They do not deduct for the typical frame symmetry of the antlers. They also don’t deduct for abnormal points on a typical deer.”

On a “typical” rack, abnormal points, stickers and drop tines are subtracted. They can count if the rack is judged to be non-typical.

But even if the deer is being scored as non-typical, the rack has to have a bunch of abnormal points for them to do much good when the final score is tallied.

Both the Boone and Crockett Club and the Pope and Young Club — keepers of trophy records — go by net and not gross score.

“Those two things beat a deer down tremendously,” he says of frame symmetry and abnormal points. “These two are by far the most important.”

The Boone and Crockett Club offers an online worksheet for hunters wanting to see if their deer approaches the size needed to be entered into the record books. If the “green score” is good enough, the club provides contact information for 25 certified volunteer measurers in Illinois including Walmsley.

For Pope and Young, the minimum score for a typical white-tailed deer is 125 inches. For a non-typical, the minimum is 155.

Antlers must dry for a minimum of 60 days before being officially measured. Points have to be at least one inch from the surface of the beam to count.

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Ok so i completely agree that more than likely a deer’s score will go down quite a bit when officially scored. I guess my question to the author is why is a deer not huge anymore just because its net score is what “counts”? I get so tired of people who look at your deer and say, “oh your deer isn’t going to score well because there’s alot of asymmetry or a broken tine ect…..” As hunters we should be excited for anyone who has a deer they are excited about. This is why i recommend not getting your deer officially scored unless its a true world class giant. Maybe these are the deer you are referring to, ones people think are record breakers, but aren’t. All i know is beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t let people make you feel like the deer you shot isn’t awesome just because it has a few deductions. DId you word hard for that kill? DId implemt a new technique and try something that finally worked out for you? Don’t let people diminish your excitement for the deer you worked hard on or spent alot of money on. You be the judge of your own kill.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/21 at 03:38 PM

I agree with Ryan and don’t really care if my buck makes the book or not.  There are a lot of us out here that think gross score ought to be the standard if your going to score them at all.  A buck’s rack is what it is and not some artificial man made standard of having to be symetric or not. I put in the time, worked hard, and it paid off.  My handgun harvested eleven pointer is probably a mid-140 class buck after deductions, but that doesn’t matter to me as it’s still MY Trophy.  I haven’t for one moment felt “disappointed”, so don’t feel sorry for me.  My buck is now proudly displayed in my home and I never get tired of re-living the excitement of everything that led up to the moment of making a successful shot and then grabbing the base of that awesome rack!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/21 at 07:45 PM

I agree with what you guys are saying as well.  Don’t let some media driven individual put down your buck because of the score.  The record books were not created originally for everyone to have bragging rights on who’s buck scores the most.  It was created as a data center for game management all around north america.  Boone and Crockett and Pope and Young are conservations organizations first.  This measurement system was developed to record the quality of the species.  With antlered and horned animals, they felt that symmetry would show the true quality of the animals.  They also track these qualities with regional locations.  The organizations started keeping these records for a lot of these species that used to be endangered.  The size of the rack can tell them a lot on how healthy the animal is.  In the 100plus years that these organizations have been around, they are responsible for the come back of a lot of the large game in North America.  They have brought back many of the species we hunt today off the endangered list.  Please don’t fault them for someone putting down your buck.  We all know that the media drives everything about this sport.  If a guy on TV says he isn’t going to shoot a 140 class deer because it’s too small, then most people watching are going to do the same thing and harass someone because they shot a 140 class deer.  I have been deer hunting for 24 years and last year I shot my first buck that I even considered putting on the wall.  Did it make Boone, No.  But nobody is going to tell me its not a great deer.  But, it did miss the book by the deductions.  LOL

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/22 at 11:42 AM

Your eyes don’t see net score anyway. What you see is the gross and that to me is what is impressive. Case in point, you see a buck with a 16 inch G-2 on the right side but the left side match is only 12 inches, that is a deduction of 4 inches. In my opinion I really don’t care. The deer still has a 16 inch tine and that is awesome! Good hunting this fall!!!!!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/23 at 08:51 AM

That scorer above who “feels sorry” for people has been spending too much time looking at his tape measure and deer magazine covers.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 09/23 at 11:16 AM

I don’t think the scorer is telling anyone that his buck is not a trophy, he’s just saying it doesn’t make the books. The only reason he is stating that it doesn’t make the books is because the HUNTER believes it makes the books because he was TOLD that from someone who doesn’t understand the system. It’s the hunter that is disappointed here, not the scorer. He just regrets having to disappoint the hunter in correcting him/her. Most people agree that any impressive buck is a real trophy whether or not it makes the books. The books are just there for conservation reasons first, and to categorize second. Lets face it, just because one NFL team makes the super bowl doesn’t mean that the other players are not true athletes, but they still strive for perfection, just like some hunters in trying for a book buck. Most hunters would love a book book, if you don’t think so, look at the thousands of people who travel each year to see the heads at the deer classic. I for one appreciate the countless hours, gasoline, etc. that the scorers donate to keep this record system alive. I have never heard a scorer ridicule, make fun of, etc. of a head they scored, in fact, it’s been quite the contrary.

Posted by deerhead on 09/23 at 01:37 PM

Look down on a deer that is “only” 140?

I haven’t SEEN one in the flesh, during hunting season!  I’d be tickled senseless to have an opportunity at such a deer.

For tickles and grins I’ve been curious as to “how small” my biggest deer is…I’m pleased as punch with it and I’m certain it is not a “book” deer, not even close.

...but someday!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 10/06 at 01:01 PM

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