There is some controversy over how to score your trophy buck, but bragging rights aside we believe there is some value in using buck scoring as a data point to know how your management strategies might be going. If you're making efforts to pass deer, improve deer habitat, and improve deer nutrition, it can be rewarding to see that reflected in antler growth.
We use the Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett method for trophy scoring. There are some other methods out there, but we’ll focus on that method. There are just a couple of tools that you need.
The primary tool is a metal quarter-inch measuring tape. Metal is recommended so that there isn’t any tape stretch when you measure things. You can also use a metal cable and sometimes that's easier to use for measuring antler beams or tine length. You can use the cable to accurately find length and then drop it onto a measuring tape (as opposed to trying to run metal measuring tape along curved antlers).
Key Rules & Terms
First thing to know is that a scorable point must be at least one inch in length. The second thing is that the length of a point must always be longer than the width of a base. In other words, if you have a one-inch point, but the base is broad enough to measure longer than the one-inch point, you do not have a scoreable point with this method. The third thing to know is that points can be scored as typical or non-typical. We’ll cover what that means just ahead.
A term you might need to be familiar with is “green score.” To officially enter any score into record books, the rack must be dried for 60 days. If you take measurements and calculate a score before the 60-day period, that's considered a green score.
Two terms you definitely want to be familiar with are gross score and net score. Most of us, when we’re talking with our buddies, are going to use the gross score to describe our trophy. But for entering scores into the books, you would need to use the net score.
Two ways to score are typical and non-typical. Typical scoring would most typically be used for a buck with fairly normal antlers, whereas if you have a buck with non-typical points on every tine, say 20 or 30 inches of non-typical points, you might want to score that buck as a non-typical. It’s really to each his or her own and you can score it both ways.
Here are snapshots of the top part of each of the Boone & Crockett Whitetail antler scoring sheets:
To view all Boone & Crockett Club antler scoring sheets, see: https://www.boone-crockett.org/download-bc-score-charts
If you want to score a buck as typical, you measure all the right antler, and you measure all the left antler, including all the G points (refer to the images above for what the points are named), then you do side-to-side deductions for asymmetry – i.e., you only get credit for the symmetry of the shortest two. For example, if the right G2 point measures eight inches and the left G2 point measures nine inches, one inch gets deducted from the score. Next, any abnormal points such as a little kicker will also be deducted from the score. The resulting number is your net typical score.
For a non-typical score, you come up with your net typical mainframe score, and then you add in the non-typical points.
There are those “in-between” types of racks where it’s difficult to determine where the G2s are, or if something’s an abnormal point, or whether there’s a common base. There have been some very famous bucks argued over by certified scorers, so don’t feel like there’s something wrong with you if it’s not immediately obvious how to measure a set of antlers.
But if we’re talking about your standard generic set of antlers, either an 8-point or a 10-point, we’ll use that as a basis for going over the basics of the scoring system.
The Main Beam
The way to score the main beam is to start at the lowest outer point on the burr and measure on the center / outermost edge of the beam along the curvature up to the tip. You're not going along the bottom or along the top but you're right in the center. This is often easier to do with a cable, but you certainly can do it with a little care using the measuring tape.
Measuring the Tines
After you get that beam measurement, you can move to your G1s. Essentially what you're doing here, and with all tines, is to imagine where the outer edge of the beam would be if the tine were not there. That's what you measure back to: where the tine meets the outermost edge of the beam. People measure this in all different ways, including measuring midway down the beam, to the bottom of the beam, etc., and that’s how you might witness variations in score. In this case, we’re using as straight a line as possible where the tine meets the beam. One way to take the guesswork out of this point is to use a piece of paper, flash card, or metal, placing it over the tine so the bottom edge of that paper shows exactly where that line should be at the base of the tine. From there, you can use a pencil or pen to mark the line. All tines (Gs) are measured the same way where you start at the top and measure down to the point where it meets the beam. So you start at the top, All the tines are referred to with the letter G and a number: G1s, G2s, G3, G4, etc.
The tine circumference measurements are referenced as H's with corresponding numbers. You get four circumference measurements on each side. This is another measurement where you find a lot of variety in how people do it, but what the instructions on the scoring system for Pope & Young or Boone & Crockett would say is, in the area from the base of the burr up to where the burr meets the G1, the narrowest circumference is your first H1 measurement.
You're always finding the smallest circumference. For H2, you go between the G1 and the G2, and you slide your tape around again. You're wrapping your metal tape around the beam, sliding it up and down until you find the smallest measurement. You then measure between G2 and G3, then between G3 and G4. You should get four measurements: H1, H2, H3, and H4. Let’s say you have a mainframe eight-pointer and you don't have a G4. You take the distance from the G3 to the end of the beam and you go halfway. That's where you take that fourth H measurement.
The final measurement for the mainframe rack is the inside spread. To find this measurement hold your metal measuring tape perpendicular to the center line of the skull and slide along the inside edges of the main beams until you find your widest measurement. That is your inside spread. One erroneous tendency might be to angle the tape to get the widest possible measurement between the two beams, but in order for the measurement to be accurate, the tape must be kept perpendicular to the center skull line.
And one key point within the Pope & Young and Boone & Crockett system is that this spread credit can only be equal to the length of the longer main beam. For example, let's say my beams are 24 inches at their greatest length and my spread is 26 inches. In this system, I receive 24 inches of spread credit, not 26.
Lastly, you will measure abnormal points. Abnormal points are any tines or points that are not shaped like a typical tine. They are measured the same way, however, with the starting point being that imaginary line where the growth meets the beam, running to the opposite tip of the growth.
Once you get all the abnormal point measurements tally the final net score:
- Total your G measurements minus side-to-side deductions.
- Total your H measurements minus side-to-side deductions.
- Tally G and H totals, then add your inside spread measurement.
- Add the abnormal point total to the net typical score to find your net non-typical score.
- Deduct your abnormal points to get your net typical score.
All these instructions can be found on www.boone-crockett.org. They have the score sheets for all the North American big game species, what the minimum entries are, and what the record book entry levels are. All the instructions are written down and the score sheets are interactive as well as printable:
It's nice to have access to that resource so you can record your trophy and maybe tuck it with the rack so you can reference it later!