Gerald Almy: More tips to score a buck

Gerald Almy

Last week we began looking at the technique for scoring a buck using the Boone & Crockett system. This is the most widely used method for describing the measurements of a deer’s rack. When someone says they harvested a “130-inch buck,” this is typically the scoring system they are referring to.

Also last week we covered inside spread, main beam length and the length of each tine protruding from the main beam. The next and last measurement before tallying the final score is mass.

This is something that one usually appreciates more and more as you grow older as a hunter. The reason is that mass generally correlates directly to age. A deer with “heavy” mass or high antler circumference measurements is usually an older animal. Here’s how to measure this and do the final tallying to determine the deer rack’s score.

Mass or circumference is measured in four places using a flexible tape. Make the first measurement roughly halfway between the burr and the first point (G-1), or at the thinnest location in this section.

Measure the antler again between the first and second points (G-1 and G-2) at the narrowest location. Make the third measurement between the second and third points (G-2 and G-3). The fourth mass measurement is taken between the third and fourth points (G-3 and G-4). If the buck is an eight-pointer and doesn’t have a fourth tine jutting off the main beam, take the measurement halfway between the middle of the third point and the tip of the antler.

Enter all four of those measurements as you go, then repeat with the other antler.

The final step for scoring your buck is simple. Just add all the measurements you’ve taken together. This gives you the final gross score. If you want the net score, deduct for abnormal points and asymmetry.

Tips & Techniques

Measure points to the nearest one-eighth of an inch. Only points one inch or longer are counted. The tip of the main beam is considered a point when describing the rack as an “eight-pointer,” or “10-pointer,” but it’s not measured as a point, since it’s already included in the main beam measurement.

If you are determining the net score, any measurement greater than the longest main beam can not be counted in the inside spread tabulation. Instead, record the length of the longest main beam as the “inside spread” if the spread is actually wider than that.

You can measure the outside spread for your own curiosity, but it is not counted in the final score–gross or net.

A rack must dry 60 days before a final score can be made, to allow for antler drying and shrinkage. That’s why the term “green score.” is used if you measure a buck’s antlers before two months have elapsed.

For more information on scoring, contact the Boone & Crockett Club, 406-542-1888; www.boone-crockett.org; Safari Club International, 520-620-1220; www.safariclub.org; Buckmasters, 334-215/3337; www.buckmasters.com.

Electronic Scoring: For a quick way to score your buck, check out the Rackulator. This computerized instrument gives you the score of a buck electronically by simply rolling the wheel along the antlers. Use the instrument one time and it gives a score read-out in seven different systems and categories. Rackulator, 888-791-4213; www.rackulator.com.

Why Score A Buck?

Maybe you’re wondering what the purpose is of measuring a buck’s antlers. Well, did you ever measure how long a trout was or weigh a bass? Look at scoring a buck the same way.

Putting a deer on a scale tells you what its body looks like. Scoring gives you an idea what its antlers look like.

Just using the number of points is too vague. If you say you shot an eight-pointer, it could mean a precocious yearling with tiny, spindly points or a 6-year-old, 200-pound buck with five-inch bases and 10-inch tines that took two men to drag out of the woods.

Just like aging a deer and weighing it, scoring a rack simply adds another way to paint a picture of the animal we were fortunate to harvest or the shed we were lucky to find. It also provides important insights on the progress you’re making if you are trying to manage your local deer herd by passing up young bucks, balancing the sex ratio and improving the habitat.

The result of those efforts should be a healthier deer herd with heavier animals and larger-racked bucks. Antler scores will help you monitor how well you are achieving those goals.

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.