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Keeping Score

Keeping Score

By Gene Thorn

Taking a huge whitetail buck is the dream of most deer hunters. When the dream finally comes true, what needs to be done to have the antlers scored and entered into the record books? Record keeping developed in North America as part of the conservation movement in the early 20 th century.

Keeping records of big game animals is a way of recognizing exceptional animals and the hunter. Even more importantly, the records provide statistical data and insight into past and present management, health, and trends of wildlife populations. The records are a testimonial to the effectiveness of wildlife management and the importance of hunting as a management tool.

Obtaining a clear photograph of the whole deer and hunter in a field setting is worth the effort. Preserve this memory forever by taking the time to get the best photo possible. Take a moment to present the animal in a respectful manner with an appropriate background.

Care should be taken not to break any tines off or split the skullplate between the antlers while dragging the deer out of the woods, while loading and unloading it out of a vehicle, and while processing the animal. The antlers with skullplate attached should be sawed off by you or your taxidermist, leaving a generous portion around the antler base area. If a European mount is desired, the skull needs to be completely cleaned. Make sure to securely attach the game check tag to the antlers. You will need to present it to the official measurer.


Rough Scoring Your Deer Antlers

A rough score may be obtained with a quarter-inch steel measuring tape. This will help if you are unsure whether a deer rack should be taken to an official measurer. Have a notepad ready to record measurements to the nearest eighth inch.

1. Measure the inside spread of the main beams at the widest point.

2. Measure the length of the main beams on both sides. Start at the burr from a side view and measure along the beam to the tip.

3. Measure the length of each point over an inch long from a point that is in line with the top of the main beam to the tip of the point.

4. On both sides, measure the circumference (go around the antler with the tape) of the main beam between the burr and the 1st point at its smallest point. Measure likewise between the 1st and 2nd point, between the 2nd and 3rd, and the 3rd and 4th point (if there is no 4th point, measure halfway between the 3rd point and tip).

Add up all these measurements and you have a rough gross score for the rack. This does not include deductions for nonsymmetry, which can be substantial. If the rack is nontypical, the scoring becomes more complex. Scoring forms that have diagrams and will allow you to “green” score your deer can be obtained from the Boone and Crockett Club for a nominal fee.


WV Big Buck Contest and Record Keeping Program

West Virginia has a Big Buck Contest and record keeping program administered by the Division of Natural Resources Wildlife Resources Section and sponsored by the DNR, Izaak Walton League and West Virginia Bowhunter’s Association. Any Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young official scorer may measure for the Big Buck Contest. January 31, 2005 is the last day that deer can be entered for the 2004 contest.
Randy Kelley reads measurement to Randy Tucker who enters data onto a computer form.

Deer taken in previous years, however, can be scored at any time and be eligible for a Certificate and entry into the Records. The minimum score for entry of bow-killed bucks is 125 points for typical racks or 155 for non-typical (Pope & Young). Gun-killed bucks must score at least 140 points for typical racks or 165 for non-typical (Boone & Crockett). The official scorer will determine whether the deer will be entered in the typical or nontypical category. New state records cannot be scored until at least 60 days after the kill.

There has been great interest in this program by West Virginia hunters. Each year an increasing number of hunters are having deer scored and entered in the Big Buck contest and Records. In cooperation with an official measurer, the hunter must provide the following items to the Big Buck Contest Review Committee for entry.

1. official score sheet signed by the measurer

2. official game check tag

3. field photos if available (mandatory for new state records)

4. fair chase affidavit signed by the hunter


Boone and Crockett Record Book

The first Boone and Crockett Record book titled “Record of North American Big Game” was published in 1932. The Boone and Crockett scoring system evolved into the measuring system adopted in 1950 which emphasizes mass and symmetry. This is the same system of scoring used today by official Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young scorers, and the state Big Buck Contest.
DNR Biologist Eric Richmond measures tine length.

Both gun and bow kills are eligible for entry into Boone & Crockett Records after a 60-day drying period. Minimum entry scores for typical whitetail deer are 160 for awards and 170 for the all-time record book. Non-typicals must score at least 185 for awards and 195 for the all-time record book.

In cooperation with an official Boone & Crockett scorer, the hunter must provide the following items for entry.

1. official Boone and Crockett score sheet

2. fair chase statement signed by the hunter and measurer

3. three photos of the antlers with front, right and left views

4. $40 entry fee -- check made payable to Boone and Crockett Club

5. copy of the hunting license and game check tag

6. hunter, guide and hunt information sheet completed by the hunter

You can contact the Boone and Crockett Club through their website at or by mail:

Boone and Crockett Club

250 Station Drive

Missoula MT 59801-2753

(406) 542-1888

(888) 840-4868 – Toll free order line for score sheet Bowhunter aims at big buck.


Pope and Young Record Book

The Pope and Young Club, a club which also has a rich hunting and conservation heritage, is recognized as the official repository for records of North American big game taken with a bow. A typical whitetail deer must score at least 125 points for entry. A nontypical must score a minimum of 155 points. Official measuring can only be done after a 60-day drying period. The antlers and skullplate must be air dried at room temperature and normal atmospheric humidity, in an unaltered state (no repairs to broken antlers or skullplate).

If a rack is stored in a freezer, the drying period does not start until it is taken out. Removal of past entries from the records and disqualification of present and future entries may result from attempts to mislead an official scorer. In cooperation with an official Pope & Young measurer, the hunter must provide the following items for entry.

1. official Pope and Young scoring form completed and signed by the measurer.

2. fair chase affidavit completed and signed by the hunter

3. three photographs of the antlers with front, right and left views

4. field photos of the whole animal if available

5. $25 entry fee – check made payable to Pope and Young Club

You may contact the Pope and Young Club through their website at or by mail:

Pope and Young Club

15 E. 2 nd Street

PO Box 548

Chatfield, MN 55923

(507) 867-4144


Getting an Entry in the Book

Take the needed items with you when you get an animal scored and the official measurer will help you get the entry submitted. The entry fees go into the Boone & Crockett or Pope & Young Club’s Conservation Funds which pay for conservation education and wildlife research projects.

Always make an appointment with the official measurer. The scoring of a deer rack is a time-consuming process and is taken very seriously by the measurer. This work is done as a public service on a voluntary basis. Measurers receive no compensation from the hunter, Boone & Crockett Club, or Pope & Young Club. Please be courteous and understand that they have other duties.

Ten private individuals and 15 DNR employees located throughout the state, are official measurers. DNR furnishes a staff of official measurers for the West Virginia Hunting and Fishing Show, hosted by the West Virginia Trophy Hunters Association, held at the Civic Center in Charleston during the latter part of January each year. Measurers also are set up at a number of other events during the year.

If you have had your rack scored by an official measurer, do not have it rescored by another measurer – a practice known as score shopping. This practice, besides being a waste of precious time and effort, is frowned upon by measurers and records committees. If there is a problem or dispute with the measurements, take it back to the original measurer and point out your concerns. The position of the record books is that the lowest score is the official score if it is measured by different scorers.

Getting a deer worthy of entry into a record book is quite an accomplishment for a hunter. It can be gratifying to know that the record will be there for future generations to see and enjoy. If you harvest such a whitetail, contact an official measurer and have the antlers scored.

Gene Thorn is a wildlife biologist stationed at R.D. Bailey WMA.