Score your buck

The Boone & Crockett Club (B&C) began keeping records in 1932, but the scoring system wasn’t officially adopted until 1950. Its original purpose was to establish a biological record of big-game species in North America. At the time, many big-game populations were dwindling, and the B&C hoped to help recover them through the selective harvest of mature male specimens and through the creation of a code of conduct for hunters. Nowadays, with many populations thriving, the scoring system is used as a tool for providing vital data for conservation and game management.

Getting Started

To rough score your buck, you can download a scoring sheet from the B&C website. Select either typical or non-typical whitetail from the chart to the left on that page. You can also use the online scoring feature, enter your measurements, and receive your final score without having to add or subtract a thing. 

Whitetail deer fall into two categories for record book consideration. Typical whitetail deer (which have symmetrical antlers with 6, 8, 10, 12…points arising in a normal manner from the antler beam) have a minimum requirement of 160 inches. Not every buck will fall into this category, as antlers can develop into countless formations that can vary quite drastically. These non-typical whitetails have lengthy and sometimes complicated antlers and often require the knowledge and know-how of a trained measurer to score them properly. As well, non-typical deer have a minimum requirement of 185 inches. Either way, to be eligible for entry into Boone and Crockett’s records, all trophy animals must follow the club’s code of conduct and must be taken in “fair chase.”

The Basics

To begin scoring your buck, simply start at the top of the B&C official scoring sheet, and work your way down, measuring and filling in the results as you go. You will want to work with a wire cable (for assistance with measuring along curves), a yard stick or folding carpenter’s ruler, and a flexible, ¼-inch-wide steel measuring tape that measures in eighths of an inch. Following are the basics for producing a rough score:

1. Count and record the number of points and match the normal points from one side of the antlers with those on the other side. As well, take note of all abnormal points (including drop tines and points coming off others or off the burr line), and only count the ones that are longer than 1 inch. 

2. Next, measure the tip-to-tip spread and the greatest spread at the widest point of the antlers, which is almost always the measurement between the two main beams. Hunters like to talk a lot about inside spread because the wider it is, the better it tends to score. To measure it, find the widest point between the two main beams. Just be sure that the tape measure is perpendicular to the length of the skull at the widest point and parallel to the top of the head. Also, note that the inside spread credit may equal but not exceed the longest main beam length.

how to score a buck
4. For the main beam, measure a straight line from the bur at the base of the antler, being sure to stay on the outside edge of the antler, all the way to the tip of that beam. The most common mistake that happens here is using an instrument that does not flex when bending around the curve of the beam. This is where the flexible wire works great. Use it to mark out the entire beam length, then mark where the beam ends on the wire and lay it on your tape measure or yard stick to see what the beam length is. Then record that number for that beam. Do the other beam the same way.

 5. When scoring the tines, measure from where they emerge off the main beam along the outside of their curvature to the tip of the point.

6. To measure mass (denoted as H1, H2, H3, and H4), measure roughly halfway (or at the narrowest spot) between the burr and the brow tine for H1. If the buck doesn't have a G4 tine, take the measurement halfway between the G3 and the tip of the main beam. 

7. Scoring is based on the symmetry between the left and the right sides. With a typical whitetail, if there are differences between one side of your buck’s rack and the other, you’ll have to subtract this from the final gross score. Abnormal points will also be deducted. 

8. To calculate your score, find the differences between each corresponding G measurement, such as G1 on the left minus G1 on the right. Do the same for each H measurement. Add these to get the total deduction number. 

9. Next, add all the measurements (inside spread, beam lengths, all the G-point lengths, and all H-circumference measurements, rounded to the nearest eighth of an inch) for your final gross score. 

Finally, subtract the total deduction number from the gross score to get your final – or net score.

Did your trophy buck make the record book? If so, you may want to submit it, officially. Just contact The Boone & Crockett Club so an official measurer can score and enter the rack in their records. However, if you’re not worried about entering your buck in the books, don’t worry about the deductions and write down your gross score. Trophy bucks are too hard to come by to subtract from what they truly are! You can also share your trophy in the Summit Gallery