Scoring whitetails takes practice and scoring them very quickly in the field takes a lot of practice. But with this system and these tips you can get pretty dang close.
The video above details an accurate and easy way to score deer quickly in the field. The article below goes into more detail on why the system works and things you can do to be quicker and more accurate.
I have always been interested in field judging whitetails but this year I had to turn it up a notch. I am so pumped up to be heading to Illinois for my first ever midwest bowhunt this year. Our outfitter has a minimum 130″ requirement….or you receive a fine.
Internally, this gives me two problems.
- I don’t want to get fined
- I don’t want to let a shooter walk
You might have different factors influencing you but the truth is field judging deer is pretty easy and all hunters should have a basic understanding of judging a deers age and antler score.
Items you’ll need to get started;
- measuring tape
This is really not as bad as it sounds and it definitely ain’t like homework. Let’s get our stuff together. The first thing you need to do is get a measuring tape. I prefer the soft cloth tape that tailors use. This is more than accurate enough to begin your field scoring homework.
Taxidermist Field Trip
A critical step in accurately scoring deer is understanding the physical characteristics of the animals in your area. A 3 year old buck in lower SC will have a much different facial measurements than a 3 year buck from northern MN. If you have a trophy room full of deer then you have it easy or you could make a visit to your local taxidermist. Studying trail camera pictures of bucks is also a great way to practice
Scoring deer quickly is about a quick and easy point of reference. Take your measuring tape and start measuring the following features of the deer mounts you have access to.
- length from ear to eye
- length of ear
- width of ear
- length from eye to end of nose
The Law of Averages
A typical average for the distance from outside of eye to outside of is about 5 inches. This measurement is roughly the width of the deer’s face. Knowing the average width of a mature deer in your area will give you a solid reference to estimate other lengths and it will also give you important information about the inside spread.
In most cases the average length of a deer’s ear is about 6 inches. Please check with your taxidermist or measure your mounts but they are probably close to 5 inches. write it down in your notes. David Morris stresses the importance of knowing the deer that you are hunting.
I also like to measure the width of the ear. This vertical reference measurement can quickly clue you in on the G1 (brow tines) and maybe even G4.
The whole point of doing the actual measurements of ears and heads is to give you the proper perspective.
Using the known averages above will now allow us to quickly estimate the inside spread of the animal. Now onto estimating beam length.
Mass Is Big
While in your trophy room or taxidermist you can also collect antler mass measurements. Each side of the deer will receive 4 mass measurements. Start by measuring halfway above the burr and then continue to the halfway point between each tine. Add all fours and then measure several more deer if possible. We don’t want to estimate each measurement in the field so we are just looking for a dependable average. For a “good buck” 16 inches of mass on each antler is a good starting point.
Easy Way to Judge Main Beams
For me the toughest part of scoring a deer on the hoof is determining the main beam length. Once again I am going to bank on the law of averages and use my knowledge of deer in my area. This is all based upon trophies that have already been scored. Here is what I learned about a deer’s main beam length.
All of the following guidelines are based upon a profile view of the buck
25 inches – beams extend all the way to the nose
22.5 inches – beams extend to the middle of the nose
19 inches – beams extend to the eye
Here are some things you should look for because they can add length to the main beams.
some beams may curve dramatically
some beams may curve up at the end
some beams may continue to extend and almost touch
Long Tines = NO Fines
Now let’s move on to the easy part of estimating tines and then adding it all up. Using the known averages of the ear, nose and head measurements should get you very close on the tines. Most novice and expert deer hunters do a pretty good job in this area. I would still encourage you to measure a few mounts by hand just to build a little confidence.
An 8 point will have 3 tine lengths and a 10 point will have 4 tine lengths. Remember the final point is just the main beam. On the score sheet and on TV you hear points or tines referred to as G1, G2, G3, G4….etc.
A Little Math Won\’t Hurt
Now it\’s time for a little math. Take all these round numbers in your head and run through this easy formula. We only need to estimate one side and then double it. This is easiest way to field score a deer. If one side doesn’t quite match or a tine is broken then you can quickly do the deductions at the end.
Tine Length (G1 + G2 + G3)
Mass Measurements (H1 + H2 + H3 + H4)
You’ll notice in David Morris’s video that outlines this whitetail field scoring method, he keeps mentioning how important practice and local knowledge can be. In my case I have an outfitter imposed 130 minimum. Luckily the internet is full of pictures of midwest whitetails. I used this as a resource to gather dozens of Illinois bucks that score 130. This gives me a great “reference” for the type of buck that carries a 130 inch rack.
If you have some quick scoring tips then please leave them in the comments below.