With the addition a couple years ago of a pre-rut antlerless only season in October, the deer hunting opportunities here in Kansas have become almost too numerous to keep track of. One thing is certain though, and that is that many deer hunters will be after one of Kansas’s signature big bucks. For years I was ignorant about the scoring process used to attribute points to these big racks, so a couple years ago I grabbed a rack I had from Ohio and took it to Pratt during National Hunting and Fishing day in hopes of finding someone to score it and explain the process to me. I was guided to Robert Barbee, then statewide public lands coordinator.
Robert explained that first and foremost the score of any given deer rack depends upon symmetry and mass; symmetry meaning how closely each side of the rack mirrors the other, and mass meaning the overall thickness and length of the antlers — the more symmetrical the antlers and the larger the antlers, the higher the score. There is a mandatory 60 day “drying period” before any set of antlers can be officially scored, as antlers shrink a lot during that time and even continue to shrink ever- so-slightly for 10 to 15 years.
Here is how the process works:
Since each tine of the rack must be measured for length, Robert first found the imaginary point where each tine attached to the main beam and marked it with a light pencil mark.
Next an inside measurement is taken at the widest place between the antlers and recorded onto a special form. At this point a couple other length measurements are taken and entered on the form but are not used toward the final score.
Next the number of points on each side are counted and recorded onto the form.
Each abnormal point is measured and recorded, which again does not figure into the final score.
Next the length of each main beam is measured and recorded. Rather than trying to hold his tape measure correctly along each beam, Robert stretched a lightweight flexible cable the length of each beam then measured the cable.
In the next step the length of each tine is measured and recorded individually. There are three columns on the form; two columns for measurements from each side of the rack, and a third column for the difference in the measurements. As the tines from each side are measured, the difference in length between them is recorded in this third column.
Now the circumference of the main beam is measured in four different spots on each side of the rack and recorded in the first two columns on the form, and again, the difference in these circumferences is recorded in the “difference” column. The measurements are now all taken and the three columns on the form are totaled.
Finally, the inside distance between the two main beams (the inside spread) is added to the total length and circumference measurements for each individual side of the rack to get a subtotal. (This is where the mass of the antlers comes into play) From this subtotal, the total of the third (“difference”) column is DEDUCTED to acquire a final score. (This is where the symmetry of the rack comes into play-the smaller the measurements in the difference column, the smaller the deduction.)
Three organizations in America sponsor big game record books; Boone & Crocket which recognizes trophies harvested by any legal means, Pope & Young which recognizes only archery trophies and National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) which sponsors a Longhunter records book for trophies harvested only by muzzle loading rifles. Official antler scorers become certified only after attending classes sponsored by these organizations, and official tape measures are used when scoring racks.
Big antlers are magnificent, we have two sets on our wall, but try as I might, I can’t make them taste good on the grill! So, this year, buy a deer tag, harvest a Kansas Whitetail deer (yes, even a doe) and take a kid deer hunting while you Explore Kansas Outdoors ... By the way, my 12-point rack scored 132 points making it what’s known as a “130 class” deer.
Steve Gilliland can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.