These will be our “rulers” for antler size estimation. I’m not suggesting young or new hunters should pass on a young buck, if it is legal and especially if they need the meat. A whitetail buck reaches maturity between three and six years of age. However, late in the rut bucks become run down; a buck can lose as much as 25 percent of its body weight in just a few weeks. If the buck is alarmed, ears pointed forward, this width is about 12 inches. If a bucks antlers are roughly two inches past the outside of his ears on each side, then he has a 24″ spread. The spread between the relaxed ears of a whitetail buck is about 15 inches. When assessing a potential trophy’s score, we need to look at the lengths of the main beams, lengths of the points, the inside spread of the main beams, and the mass or circumference of the main beams at four locations. Throughout his career as an editor, he has written and published numerous articles on deer management and hunting. Typical Coues’ whitetail deer scoring 144-1/8 points, Extra long main beams – 20-2/8 and 20-5/8 inches, Typical Coues' whitetail deer scoring 104-1/8 points, Strong G-2s and G-3s – 9-6/8 and 9-2/8 inches, respectively. If you see one of these geezers, consider not passing him up. The major features that make up a B&C score for a whitetail deer are: F - main beam length, G - point lengths, H - circumferences, and D - Inside Spread (not shown).

Estimating the mass or circumference measurements of the antler is where we use our deer’s four-inch eye circumference as the “ruler.” Compare the antler at H-1, H-2, etc., to the eye. The “backs” are very often the weakest part of a mule deer rack and if they resemble a “crab claw”, then he is probably a young buck. These old brutes are the true trophies of the whitetail woods: They’re wise, rare, and represent everything that is wild. As a general rule of thumb there are several basic rules to field judging whitetail deer. This allows us to count the standing normal points G-2, G-3, G-4, etc., and quickly add that to the number 2 (brow tine and beam tip). The typical pattern of a mature whitetail’s antler development is an unbranched main beam that normally develops from three to seven (sometimes more) unbranched points per antler at roughly spaced intervals. Additionally, it’s just not as exciting to hunt a population of younger deer, as the rut is less intense, and calling or rattling in a buck is more difficult to do without a couple big boys lurking in the forest. Use the buck’s “rulers” to estimate the score, then check your calculations by actually measuring the rack. A high population of mature bucks makes hunting more exciting. The Boone and Crockett Club recognizes two categories of whitetail deer. Our team is looking forward to helping you find your next adventure! The circumference of a mature buck’s eye is approximately four inches.

The easiest method for quickly judging the spread on any mule deer is the distance from ear-tip to ear-tip which is usually very close to 20 inches. ", Position Statement on Big Game Records and Hunting, North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. He’ll be more subject to disease, will struggle to get through the winter, and he’s past his breeding prime.

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