
Site Updated: 03/16/2014

FIELD JUDGING TECHNIQUES Pictures and Photos by George A. Parris and Contributors Official Pope and Young Measurer Field judging mature whitetails is an art developed from looking and studying hundreds of whitetail bucks. An understanding of the current P & Y and B & C scoring systems for typical whitetails is necessary. The measurements that lead to a total score include: inside spread, beam length, tine length and beam circumference. I would recommend that you refer to the following web site: http://www.popeyoung.org/ for details of how measurements are taken and scoring forms. To help us with field judging whitetails let’s dissect what it takes to reach 150 inches of antler. Inside spread is the easiest. The normal distance from ear tip to ear tip of a whitetail ranges from 16"18". Let’s assume that we are glassing a buck that is ear tip to ear tip. We’ll give him a 17" spread credit. Beam lengths are much less of an exact science. The best way to get a feel for this is to touch and feel as many mounted deer or shed antlers as you possibly can. The truly big bucks usually have a minimum of 24" beams. World class bucks usually boast of 28"32" beams. Those are long beams. When glassing our makebelieve buck we see that the beams really extend out over his nose and wrap quite a bit in front. We’ll give him 24" beams.
Let’s tally up our score so far. We have two beams at 24" which gives us 48". Add the inside spread and we have 65". We aren’t even half way to 150 yet. Tine lengths can be deceptive but are the main key to really high scores. The deer we are glassing is a 5x5. To make this little exercise simple we are going to assume that the buck is fairly symmetrical. Remember that even though the buck is a 5x5 we have already measured the 5^{th} point (which is the end of the beam) so we will only get four tine measurements on each side. We estimate our buck to have 4" brow tines (these are called G1’s on the official P & Y score sheet), 10" G2s, 8" G3s and 6" G4s for a total of 28". Two beams add up to 56" of tine length and if we add this to our 65" subtotal we get 121". The final measurements are the beam circumferences or H’s on the official score sheet. For all typical 4x4 deer and up, you are limited to four circumference measurements per antler. What I like to do is assume that we will average 4" per H measurement on most deer in this class. That will give us approximately 16" per beam or a total of 32" of circumference measurement (i.e. mass). For massive bucks you may want to use 34" or 35" for your total H measurements. For spindly racked bucks I estimate 30" of H measurements. If we add 32" to our 121" we get 153" of antler. What a buck! This does not account for deductions in symmetry of course. I prefer gross measurements to net measurements because it is more representative of the quality of the buck. It is really easy to get 10"15" of deductions on bucks in this class which lack symmetry. Many times you may only get four or five seconds to look at a deer (or less) and to get an accurate appraisal of a buck a halfmile away with eight power binoculars is difficult.Let’s quickly summarize the measurements: spread – 17", beams – 24" (48" total), tines – 28" (56" total) and circumferences – 16" (32" total). Total is 153". The best way to become astute at field judging is to look at hundreds of whitetail bucks in magazines or videos and study the measurements that lead to big scores. I don’t get real thrilled over spread because even if you have a 20" wide buck it doesn’t affect the score that much. Tine length measurements and circumference measurements are the key. That’s why I like my bucks to be high and heavy. However in many cases spread may be an indicator of beam length. It depends if the beams finish way out over the nose. Good luck and have fun!
How big is this buck? 20" spread 50" of beams 34" of circumferences 70" of tines 174" total? What do you think?
How big is this buck? 20" spread (or better) 52" of beams 36" of circumferences 60" of tines 168" total? What do you think?

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