Antler scoring event takes guess work out of hunters’ deer tales

While fishermen are famous for fudging measurement estimates, deer hunters are not immune from stretching the story and size proportions of the bucks they bring home. I have a few sets of antlers that I measured myself and rounded up a little bit as I described them.

That was until I took them to the state Department of Conservation’s Antler Scoring Event a couple of years ago at the Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center near High Ridge. Hunters can get the facts on their racks from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 19.

I had originally claimed the three mounts I have measured in the “range” of 120, 130, and 140. Once the official paperwork was completed, they had shrunk to scores of 109, 115 and 120 (still rounding up the fractions).

Conservation agent Josh Hallquist explains the antler scoring system to hunters who brought a deer to be measured at the Jay Henges Shooting Range and Outdoor Education Center in 2019.

The most common vernacular in discussing deer antlers is to simply count the number of points and call your deer an eight-pointer or whatever total you can identify as at least an inch long, big enough to hang a ring on, or any other guideline your conscience can allow.

The problem beyond the inconsistency in that counting system is that it doesn’t truly reflect the age or size of the deer. One of the biggest deer I’ve seen harvested was a six-pointer, and of the three racks I had measured in 2019, the smallest is a 10-pointer. The other two higher scoring antlers have nine ring-holders. A one-year-old deer can have an eight-point rack that is barely bigger than a large man’s hands.

Conservation agent Ben Pursley and volunteer Shawn Bevfoden take and tabulate measurements at the scoring event High Ridge in 2019.

The event at Henges will use the Boone and Crockett Club official scoring system for North American big game trophies. The measurements count the total number of points, but the final score takes into account the overall length of the main beam on both sides, the length of each point, the circumference at the smallest place between the each of the first four points, and the distance of the inside spread all added together.

For symmetrical racks, the accumulated differences between the two sides, plus any a abnormal points, are subtracted from the total of the of all the measurements added together for length, spread and circumference.

The annual event at Henges is held in late winter because antlers are required to have dried for at least 60 days after harvest. Hunters are also welcome to bring shed antlers they have found or racks from deer they harvested in previous years. Hunters also have the option to drop off their antlers for measurement and to pick them up at a later date.

Reservations are not required, and there is no cost to have antlers measured. Participants will be asked to observe current social distancing and masking guidelines during the event. For more information, call 636-938-9548. The shooting range and education center is at 1100 Antire Road near the Interstate 44 exit 269.

The Boone and Crockett Club is the internationally-recognized standard for judging deer racks taken with firearms from any location. The Pope and Young Club provides the same kind of certification for antlers harvested by bow and arrow.

Missouri Show-Me Big Bucks Club recognizes trophy white-tailed deer harvested or found in the state, in both the typical and non-typical categories. The organizations charge a standard fee for entering scores in their record books.

Hunters are also asked to provide details on date, time and location of harvest. Record book entries require proof or certification that the hunter held a valid permit at the time of harvest.

Originally published by Leader Publications on March 3, 2022.

Published by John J. Winkelman

A freelance outdoor writer for more than 30 years

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