All ethical hunters either cook the venison they harvest or donate the meat. (It’s illegal to abandon wild game after a hunt.) So, while enjoying the wild game at the dinner table is a main selling point for a lot of hunters, some hunters also like to keep track of the size of the deer they’ve harvested. You can keep track by scoring the deer’s antlers. You can keep the record for yourself or submit it for entry into an official database. Review the tips below for the best ways to score your antlers.

What You’ll Need

To score your deer, you’ll need a tape measurer, string or a flexible cable, and an official scorecard. The scorecard should have a diagram with a key containing letters and numbers. These codes will tell you what part of the antler to measure and where to record it on the scorecard.

You can find official guidelines with instructions on how to score your deer online. Pope & Young has an official scoring card; You can download the file here. Boone and Crockett Club has one as well; Click here to download theirs.

Basics of Scoring

If you score your deer immediately, that score is considered a “green” score. A deer’s antlers contain moisture, so the size of the antlers will reflect that excess moisture. If you leave the antlers out in room temperature to dry for at least 60 days, the moisture will evaporate and give you a more accurate reading. Deer antlers can shrink up to 1.5 inches after drying.

Be conscious of starting your measurements at the same spot on each side. Give yourself some kind of marker on the base of the antler to ensure that you keep the same starting point. Measuring the tine length can be where this gets tricky. For accuracy, place a piece of masking tape along the base of the tine, lining up the tape so that the top of the tape aligns with the top edge of the main beam. If you don’t have masking tape, placing a pencil mark in the same spot will also work.

For the main beam measurement, you’ll need a string or flexible cable because it needs to follow the curve of the antler. Use tape to hold the string or cable in place as you move along the beam. This measurement goes from the burr to the tip. Mark where the measurement ends on the string with a pencil or marker, or clip off the area if you’re using a cable.

Make sure you’re recording your measurements to the most accurate 1/8 inch. Record the true measurement without simplifying. For example, if your score ends in 4/8, don’t simply to 1/2, leave the measurement as is.

If you follow the scorecard and keep accurate numbers without rounding up or down, you should have an accurate score, but you can always have the score verified by an official measurer. Pope & Young offers an official measurer locator, as does Boone and Crockett.

Scoring a deer is a great way to keep track of the size of your harvests for your own records. You can also use this knowledge to keep track of the size of the deer herd in your area and use it for research next hunting season. Be sure to check out the official scorecards listed above next hunting season after a successful harvest from your Stump blind.

What’s your best score on a deer you’ve harvested? Let us know in the comments below!

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