All sets of antlers have a right and a left side. While holding the rack from the rear (main beams pointing away from you) your right is the deer's right and obviously your left is the deer's left. Now that we know that, why is that important? Well you will take your measurements from both the right and the left so that you can compare them for symmetry.
The easiest way to begin is to take out a piece of scrap paper to record your measurements. The following is a demonstration of how you might organize your paper for a simple 10-point "typical" rack.
Now we are ready to start taking measurements. You can start from any location that you like, but I am going to start as if I was the one taking the measurements.
First thing I like to do is to identify and mark all of the points. To do this I start by identifying where each of the main points transition into the main beam. Looking at the rack from the outside I try to imagine where the top of the beam would be if the point was not there. I place a mark at the bottom of the point where this imaginary line is and place a small lead pencil mark. This will represent the bottom of the point so that I can measure the point from its tip to the bottom for the "tine length".
The first actual measurement that I usually take is the inside spread. Just as it sounds, measure the greatest inside spread of the main beams. This measurement needs to be taken straight across from inside of the left beam to the inside of the right. Do not angle your tape to try and increase this measurement because you are just cheating yourself and it is not what the bucks actual measurement is. Record this measurement somewhere on your piece of paper because you will add this to your antler measurements when you are totalling your score. Remember to always record your measurements to the nearest 1/8".
Note: It is important to point out that the inside spread cannot exceed the length of the longest main beam. If you ever have this situation, the the inside spread measurement is not used and you should record the inside spread as the same length that you measure for the longest main beam.
The next thing to do is to pick a side of the rack to start measuring. I usually start with the left antler, take all of its measurements and then move to the right antler. It is important to point out that all of the main beam and most tine length measurements will be taken along the outside of the rack. If you happen across a point that angle or bends outward you should measure the opposite side. Always measure the longest side but never on the edges.
The main beam measurement is a good place to start. This is usually your longest measurement and is commonly the most difficult one to take. If you only have a string start with one end where the base (or burr) begins to come out of the skull (or just under the hair line). While holding the start of the string at the base, slowly walk the string around the outside of the main beam (try your best to keep the string following the centerline of the beam) holding it in place every few inches. You may need a little help from another pair of hands but after a little practice you will be doing it on your own. As you walk the string down the beam be sure not to let the string slip to much or your measurement will not be as accurate. It is fine to let the start of the string fall as long as you keep your place on the string from the last point where you were holding it. The main beam measurement is the length from the burr to the tip, if your rack happens to be very blunt on the end you should measure to the center of the blunt end. Once you get to the antler tip, use your fingers to pinch the end of the string and take your string to your tape measure. At the tape measure, place your pinched end at the start of the tape and record the length of your string. This is your main beam length for whichever side of the rack that you are measuring. The tip of the main beam is counted as a point but it does not get measured as a separate point like the other scorable points do.
This may be a good time to discuss the use of string. Be sure that the string that you choose to use does not "stretch" too much. Many guys who use string are not very accurate because they walk the string down the antler while the string is loose and then when they place it on the tape they pull it as hard as possible to straighten it out. If your string stretches, your measurement is going to come out longer than what the rack actually is. This is why if your are able to get your hands on a cable the "stretch" does not happen.
Now we can begin to measure the normal points that you will record on your paper. Starting with the G1 (which is commonly referred to as a brow tine) use your tape and measure the length of the point from the tip to the lead line base mark that you marked previously. The G1 point is always recorded whether it is present or not. If the brow tines are absent or too short to measure they are still recorded as 0-0/8".
As a rule, most tines will be measured from the backside, however, if you have a tine the bends backwards or curls (like many brow tines do) you should measure the opposite side. Always measure a points longest side but never on the edges.
You can now determine the lengths of the remaining normal points on the side of the antler that you are measuring. Record these measurements as the G2, G3, and G4. Up to G4s are recorded for your standard 10-point typical rack. If you happen to be measuring a typical 12-point (and it has matching normal points on the opposite side) you will need to record G5s and so on.
Note: Many main beams have "unpaired" normal points located beyond the last circumference (C4) measurement that are not present on the other main beam (i.e. typical 11-pt racks). These points are considered normal points (Gs) on that side and should not be recorded as abnormal points.
Many people ask why normal points are referred to as Gs. The G does not really stand for anything. The G reference is taken from the fact that on an Official Boone and Crockett score sheet the page is laid out in lines that are listed by letters (i.e. A, B, C, so on). The tine lengths measurements are recorded on the G lines and the name just kinda stuck.
The main beam and the point measurements have been recorded so now we are ready to take our circumference measurements. You can again use your string to do this but is you can get yourself a 1/4" steel tape measure it would be best. You need to start at the base (or burr) of the antler and work your way towards the tip of the main beam. Your first measurement will be taken at the narrowest point between the base and the G1. To accurately take this measurement, simply wrap your string or 1/4" tape around the main beam at the narrowest point and record your measrurement. On a piece of paper I usually record the circumferences as C1, C2, C3 and C4 (for simplicity) but the official scorers refer to them as Hs.
After you have recorded your C1, move to the next circumference located between the G1 and the G2 points. As you did before, measure the circumference and record it as your C2. Do the same for the C3 (between the G2 and G3) and C4 (between the G3 and G4). It may be important to point out that all racks get 4 circumference measurements no matter how many normal points they have. For all you guys that happen to have typical 12-points or 14-points you still only get 4 like everyone else.
Note: For you guys scoring 8-pointers finding the location for the C4 circumference can be a bit tricky. The easiest way to explain it is too look at the base tine length mark that you placed under your G3 and then make a new mark (perpendicular to the tine base line mark) directly below it on the centerline of the main beam. Now if you measure the distance from this mark to the end of the beam and divide it in half, you will have determined how far from your G3 to take your C4 circumference measurement. Measure the circumference at this location and record it as your C4.
We should now be done taking all of the necessary measurements from one side of the rack. Simply perform all of the same measurements for the opposite side of the rack and record the measurements on your piece of paper.
Once you have all of your measurements recorded you need to add them all up. Remember that all measurements are recorded to the nearest 1/8" (so 1/2" is actually recorded as 4/8"). If you have recorded all of your measurements for the right antler of your rack in a column, total the column. Then do the same for the left antler measurements. Now, if you take the total for the right antler and add it to the total for the left antler and add the inside spread measurement you have determined your racks Gross Score.
In order to get the Net Score a bit more math has to be done. On your paper it is easiest to record your measurements in columns and rows. The rows should have listed your main beams, the Gs individually and the Cs individually. If you did that you should be able to develop a difference column. The difference column is simply that, the difference between the measurements from the right and left antler. You should determine the difference for each line and then total the entire difference column. Once you have added up the Total Difference column you must subtract that from your Gross Score. The result is your final NET SCORE.
No discussion about scoring deer is complete until we address abnormal points or "how to score a non-typical buck". Well the easiest thing to do if you truly have a knarly, huge non-typical rack is to take it to an official record book scorer. But for the bucks that maybe only have an uneven rack with pretty simple abnormal points, its really not that difficult.
A non-typical rack is scored the exact same way as we described above, the only difference is how to figure in the abnormal points. As we mentioned above, abnormal points are usually located off of the side/bottom (or wherever) of the main beams and/or off of other points. For the most part, a "scoreable" abnormal point is any abnormal point that is at least 1" long and is longer than it is wide.
Note: Some "odd ball" points that may be located off of the top of the main beam and do not have a match on the opposite antler can also be considered an abnormal point. These points usually originate off of the main beam before the last circumference (C4) measurement location. Many main beams have "unpaired" normal points located beyond the C4 measurement that are not present on the other main beam (i.e. typical 11-pt racks). These points are considered normal points (Gs) on that side and should not be recorded as abnormal points.
Measuring each abnormal point is done the same way as normal points. Starting at the base of each antler, measure all of the abnormal points for that antler and record them. Do the same for all of the abnormal points found on the opposite antler. Once you have them recorded, add them all up and record a total for the abnormal points.
Once you have your Abnormal Points Total, simply take your net typical score and add the abnormal points total to it. This will give you a Net Non-Typical Score.
It is now time to discuss how the presence of abnormal points effect a Typical score. If you have your abnormal points total, you need to add this amount to your "difference column". Once you have this new total, you must take it away from your gross typical score in order to determine your Net Typical Score.
Note: The simplest way to put it is to first determine a Net Typical Score, then add the abnormal points for your Net Non-Typical Score or subtract the abnormal points to determine your Final Net Typical Score.
Hopefully you can see that there is a difference between a typical and non-typical score. A buck may be scored as both typical and non-typical but can only be entered into the trophy books one way. Most people determine which way they want their deer scored by whichever total is the largest. I try to look at whichever is the best representation of the deer. A big typical buck with a lot of small abnormal points may get his typical score "hammered" and could appear to be small on paper. The same buck's larger, non-typical score may give a better representation of how big the guy really is.
I hope this information proves useful and that you enjoy hours of entertainment scoring your deer.
Do you have any additional information about "Scoring Deer" that you would like to share?
It is not our intention to make a bunch of "want-a-be" professional deer scorers out there, we would just like to shed some light on the subject that may help hunters score their antlers as accurately as possible.
Any antler score taken by someone other than a certified Boone and Crockett scorer is not an official score and should not be represented as such.