Counting deer points is a point of prestige for hunters. As the deer ages, it grows more points on its antlers. Most hunters like to keep the deer antler as a trophy. 

They count points; the more the deer points, the more valuable and prestigious. However, biologists are also interested in counting deer points to record information for their study.

Deer antlers get bigger and develop more character with each successive shedding. As antlers widen, the bars lengthen, and numerous protrusions- “points” will develop. A deer’s point is counted by the number of tines on its antlers. If a deer gains 6 points, it has six distinct tines.

There are numerous ways to assess the quality of deer antlers. You can measure the width; you can score them using the Boone and Crockett method, or, the most common method, you can count on the points.

Not all prongs qualify as points, and there is a recognized system for determining what constitutes a set of antlers.

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Importance of counting deer points

In the context of a highly organized hunting farm, sick and backward animals such as deer are regularly killed, which prevents the negative consequences of chasing the biggest trophies.

Measurements of hunting trophies are made in strict compliance with existing international or national rules, and all trophy elements are measured with excellent accuracies, like the bucks’ score. Then the award will depend on the scoring sheet.

The evaluation of deer antlers is based on a points system. In the case of deer and legal buck antlers, several parts of their antlers are measured with great accuracy. The principal measured parts are the main beam, tip, brow tine, and other smaller branches that grow from antlers called tines. 

Apart from these measurements, antler weight, quality, and aesthetic appeal are also considered, and points are scored, which is the basis for providing the award. Further, counting and evaluating deer points also help to:

1. Evaluate the genetic condition of an animal

In the deer, a large percentage of the responsibility for antler growth lies in genetics and, in a similar proportion, in the conditions of the habitat in which it develops. 

We must not forget that the deer herds are wandering animals if we do not block their way with fences. When we see the larger antlers of a deer, we see the expression of its genetic quality and expertise, which may also be found, wherever they are.

The best conditions for their development, without ties to any territory, so in reality, we see elements that are fundamental aspects linked to their genotype.

2. Evaluate the animals’ habitat condition

The quality of hunting trophies depends primarily on the hereditary predisposition of the animal’s body and environmental factors. 

In this respect, the characteristics of the trophy characterize not only the individual characteristics of the animal but also the conditions of its habitat, the extent to which it is provided with complete feed, the feeding required, the presence of various diseases, and so on.

The authorities judge the wildlife population’s general condition based on the value of the trophies obtained.

3. Help in animal conservation

The antlers are, without a doubt, an inexhaustible source of information. Measuring deer antlers’ points gives a clear picture of their composition and quality. 

The composition of the antlers can help the conservation establish whether the diet of deer is rich, poor, or regular in terms of mineral content, essential for the development of a good horn.

In addition, it is not just buck-to-buck competition that causes these issues; sometimes, an overwhelming majority of whitetail buck or mule deer can jeopardize the future generation by causing uneven distribution population proportion during the breeding season.

An accurate method of non-overhunting with hunter satisfaction is a good measure of buck population control.

Counting deer points by Boone and Crockett method

Several methods exist for marking deer antlers and counting their points, but Boone and Crockett (BC scoring chart) are the most widely used. 

The system was initiated in the United States of America in 1887. It was founded by the then president, Theodore Roosevelt, and a group of friends concerned about wildlife and its habitat conservation. 

The club’s name is inspired by two explorers and pioneers of the colonization of North America: Daniel Boone and David Crockett, who lived from nature in strict adherence to ethics. The metric for North American white-tailed deer trophies (used today also) was officially established in 1950. 

For the official registration of the trophies in the record book of this club, it is required that the corresponding measurement and request be carried out by an official measurer authorized by the same club.

This system includes taking measurements along several points on antlers, penalties for any anomalies, and calculating a final score by adding these factors. 

Certified people should take official ratings after the antlers have dried for at least 60 days, but the judges can make a reasonable estimate quickly. The methods are: 

  1. Download a score sheet from the official site of Boone and Crockett. It will help you organize all the data you collect.
  1. Count the points on the antler. Points are protrusions that are at least 1 inch long and at least as long as wide. The tips of the main beams are saved as points. 
  1. Note the number of points for each antler on your score sheet.
  1. Look at the main beam of each antler. Measure the distance between the two ends of the main beam using the measuring tape and record this on your sheet as the Tip-to-Tip spread. You have to measure the distance from one outer edge of the main beam to the other at the widest point between the main beams. 
  1. List the largest spread. At the tip of the wider main beam, measure the distance between the two inside edges. It is an indoor spread.
  1. At the bottom of the antlers, where they meet the skull, is a ridge or burr. Measure from this point outside each main beam and record these measurements for each antler.
  1. If the inside spread credit is less than or equal to the length of the longest main beam, record the inside spread as the Credit Spread. 
  1. If the inside spread is more than the longest main beam, record the length of the longest main beam as the Credit Spread.
  1. Measure each standard point on each antler from where it meets the main beam at the tip end. Standard points protrude from the top of the main beam. 
  1. Write down these measurements. The main beam tips are not measured as points because they have already been incorporated into the spread calculations.
  1. Measure and record the length of all not normal points that project from another point or somewhere other than the top of the main beam. The total length of all abnormal points is recorded in the difference column on your score sheet.
  1. Measure and record the smallest circumference between the burr and the first point. 
  1. Then measure between the first and second points, the second and third points, and the third and fourth points.
  1. Calculate and record the difference between the two main beam measurements and the two measurements for each point.
  1. To determine the final score, add all numbers in the Right Antler column, all numbers in the Left Antler column, add in the Credit Spread and subtract all numbers in the Difference column.
a white tail buck with huge antlers
A typical whitetail deer with huge antlers

Counting deer points by CIC method

The CIC (International Council for the Conservation of Game and Wildlife) is a politically independent non-profit international organization committed to preserving wildlife by promoting the sustainable use of wildlife resources. 

Since its inception, CIC has promoted the ideals of sustainable and ethical hunting, emphasizing that wildlife conservation and hunting together are recognized worldwide as independent wildlife consultants.

It has developed a formula to serve hunter society across the globe. Estimating the score to determine the bucks points using this formula is mainly practiced in European nations. 

  1. Measure along the outer curvature from the coronet’s lower outer edge to the crown tip’s end, giving the greatest overall length. The tape measure will be pressed against the antler at 3-4 cm from the coronet, and in the circumference measurements, it will be tried, as much as possible, not to vary direction.
  1. Measure along the tine underside from the upper edge of the coronet to the time extremity. 
  1. Measure along the tine underside from the area where it emerges from the main beam to the Tine extremity. 
  1. Measure in the thickest section of the coronet with tape.
  1. Measure in the thinnest section between brow and tray lines. 
  1. Measure in the thinnest section between the crown tie and tray tine. 
  1. The weight is taken in kilograms, with an appreciation of up to 10 grams of the antlers and the skull free of all foreign matter. With the complete skull and without the lower jaw, deduct 0.70 kg from the total weight.
  1. With the skull without the upper teeth, deduct 0.50 kg from the total weight. No points will be deducted from the total weight with the skull serrated, presenting only the frontal part. With the skull sawn, which presents the pivots and very little more bone, add 0.15 to 0.20 kg to the total weight.
  1. The maximum internal separation between the antlers:
  • Less than 60% of the average length of the antlers: 0 points.
  • From 60 to 70%: 1 point.
  • From 70 to 80%: 2 points.
  • Above 80%: 3 points.
  1. It must measure at least two centimeters at the shortest part to be considered a point. Points are given based on the color of the antler.
  • Light gray, yellowish, or artificially dyed: 0 points.
  • Gray to brown: 1 point.
  • Dark brown to black: 2 points
  1. Pearling
  • Smooth antler surface: 0 points.
  • The slightly pearly surface of the antlers: 1 point.
  • The surface of the antlers is well pearled: 2 points.
  1. Tine Ends
  • Porous or blunt: 0 points.
  • Sharp and dark: 1 point.
  • Sharp and white: 2 points.
  1. Bay Tines
  • Short (from 2 to 10 cm.): 0 points.
  • Medium (from 10.1 to 15 cm.): 0.5 points.
  • Long (more than 15 cm.): 1 point.
  1. All the tines that are above the tray tines are part of the crown and are categorized as:
  • Short: 2-10 cm
  • Medium: 10-15 cm
  • Long: More than 15 cm
  • Forked Point is counted as 1 point
  1. Penalties will only be applied to defects that the measurements have not considered. Points are given based on the tines number and their length.
  • 5-7 short tines: 1-2 points
  • 5-7 medium tines: 3-4 points
  • 5-7 long tines: 4-5 points
  • 8-9 short tines: 4-5 points
  • 8-9 medium length tines: 5-6 points
  • 8-9 long tines: 6-7 points
  • 10 and longer short tines: 6-7 points
  • 10 and longer medium length tines: 7-8 points
  • 10 and longer long tines: 9 or 10-point buck
  1. Up to a maximum of three points may be subtracted for the following defects:
  • Irregular implantation
  • Pronounced asymmetrical
  • A marked difference in the length of the antlers
  • Differences in the length of the wrestlers, second wrestlers, and central points
  1. With your score already recorded, now you will know which medal you will receive. These are the points that will determine what type of trophy you are facing:
  • Gold: 181 points and up.
  • Silver: From 173 to 180.99 points.
  • Bronze: From 165 to 172.99 points.

The antler point restriction varies by region, even though the counting method might be the same. Deer hunting under limitations, rules, and regulations for its antler and determining points to gain awards may seem horrid.

Still, it helps control the deer population in the wildlife, maintaining the ecosystem at its balance. It also allows for studying the wildlife and determining the needed step for its conservation.

Therefore, reputed organizations have put forward the globally acceptable point on the Bucks measuring system based on antlers spread, which you can also follow on your own. 

(Last Updated on July 31, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Sadrish Dawadi is a Mountain Ecologist, an expert on the impact of climate change on humans, animals, and plant species. As an activist for animal welfare, he believes an animal's eyes can speak a great language of the planet's state and environmental condition.