Scoring White-tail Bucks

Scoring White-tail Bucks

Scoring White-tail Bucks

by: Ted Lake

Many archery deer hunters today have set higher personal standards as far as hunting trophy bucks. They seem to be putting more demands on themselves simply to locate a record buck and to harvest it, only to have it put into the book of records. There is one problem with this theory, record bucks are far and few between. Harvesting a record white-tail buck while bowhunting is like winning the lottery, rare, but it can happen and does happen every year.

In the top ten big buck states, Michigan ranks number nine, while Wisconsin is at the number one position. The state of Wisconsin averages about 893,000 hunters each year, while Michigan will average around 1,125,000 white-tail deer hunters per year. Wisconsin has 3,125 Pope & Young bucks and 273 Boone & Crocket bucks. Michigan has 576 Pope & Young, 60 Boone & Crocket bucks in their books. In order to harvest a record buck during your archery hunting season, you must first be able to identify and score a buck out in the field. Now, how often does it happen that you see 150-class or even 160-class bucks out in the field? So how do you know when you do see one? First, practice makes perfect. Go to your local taxidermist and have him or her help you score some of the bucks on the wall. Estimate its inside and outside spread, length of beam, average mass, length and number of points. By practicing on wall mounts, your judgment out in the field will be much easier.

Antler spread is one of the easiest to identify. An average deer in the state of Michigan has a measurement of about 18 inches from tip of ear to ear. You can then estimate the antler spread of the buck you are estimating by using this measurement. But don’t put too much emphasis on this. The inside spread of the antlers is only one total. If it’s 20 inches, then a total of 20 inches is added at the end of the final score.

The length of the beam will be doubled. In other words, if the length of the beams were 20 inches each, then the total would be 40 inches added to the end total. When estimating the length out in the field you should note that most antlers curve backwards before going forward. If the beam curves backward then forward to its nose, you are looking at approximately 24 inches. A total of 48 inches would then be added to the end total.

A mass measurement is a little more difficult to identify in the field. Mass is a measurement of the circumference of the antler in four different positions on the beam. A total of 8 measurements are then collected and added to the total. Identifying the mass of an antler should be known by the archery deer hunter as to whether it is heavy or light. Learning the average mass of big white-tail bucks in your area can be critical to the aiding of your measurement in the field. Practice makes perfect!

Tine length and the number of points contribute the most to the total inches. Identifying how many points by the archery hunter should be done quickly. In order to identify the number of points at a quick glance, simply count the points that are projecting straight up. For example; two points up, it’s an 8-pointer; three up, a 10-pointer and so on. If you are having a hard time counting points because they are all over the place, then you should be shooting. This rack is probably a non-typical buck and will more than likely get you into the record books.

Measuring the length of the tine can also be aided by knowing that the length of white-tail deer ears is on average 8 inches long. Thus, a 10-point buck with an average of 10 inch tines will score very well, or an 8-point buck with an average of 12 inch tines will do very well also. The length of the tines contributes most to the total inches in the end.

As for myself, I’m an archery meat hunter, but I do try to practice letting smaller, younger bucks go, allowing them to mature in hopes of hitting the lottery someday with a huge Pope & Young record buck. I know that living in Michigan with over a million hunters out in the field each year, my chances are slim, but that’s my dream and dreams sometimes come true! Stay Focused and Keep Dreaming!

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