People who admire deer antlers -- and that includes most hunters and wildlife observers -- often compare one deer's rack to another.
It's part of deer hunting, whether we pursue the animals with gun or bow, look for shed antlers in spring or just drive around in the car looking at deer on a summer evening.
Some years ago the Boone and Crockett Club and Pope and Young Club, official custodians of antler records for deer taken by firearms and archery, developed uniform methods for measuring antlers. Today there are thousands of certified measurers across the nation. Their services are much in demand since there's no shortage of racks to score.
At the Hunters Rendezvous, a recent two-day event at Zorbaz in Crosslake, several certified measurers were on hand to score antlers for free. Among them was Denny Petrick, a Palisade resident who is record book chairman for the Minnesota Deer Hunters Association and a measurer for the Pope and Young Club.
"I got into it because I enjoy it," said Petrick, who attended a five-day P & Y certification course. "I probably score 100 to 200 racks a year. People bring them to my house and I also do about 10 shows here in Minnesota. The biggest racks I ever scored were a 236 non-typical and a 180 typical."
"Typical" and "non-typical" refer to the alignment of the points on a rack. Typical points come off the top of the main beam. Non-typical, or abnormal, points fork from other points or the inside, outside or bottom of the main beam. These include "burr" points that sprout at the base of the main beam. Generally, a rack isn't considered non-typical unless it has about 15 inches of abnormal point length.
The highest scoring racks are symmetrical; point lengths and beam thicknesses match up closely on each side. A perfectly symmetrical rack is very rare. Petrick, who has measured more than 3,000 racks in his career, said he has yet to score one that was perfectly symmetrical.
The "green score" is the score of the antlers from the time a deer is shot to when the final score is determined. Before a green score becomes an official score a rack must undergo a mandatory 60-day drying period beginning from the time the animal is recovered. If antlers are stored in a freezer the official score cannot be determined until they've been out of the freezer for 60 days.
All measurements are made with a metal tape. Cloth tapes are not allowed because they can stretch.
The first measurement that factors into a rack's score is the tip-to-tip spread, the distance between the two tips of the rack. Then the inside spread (the widest distance between the main beams) is measured and added to the tip-to-tip spread.
The length of each main beam is measured. Point lengths are measured, beginning with the point closest to the deer's skull (brow tine) and progressing outward to the last point on each side. Points are referred to, in order from the base of the skull outward, as G1, G2, G3, etc. Each number corresponds to one point. For example, an 8-point rack ends with a G3 (brow tine plus three points on one side), a 10-point rack with a G4, a 12-point rack with a G5, etc.
To score, a point must be at least an inch long. Shorter points are measured and deducted against the final score.
The circumference of the main beams is measured in four places, whether it's a spike or a 10-point rack. These four measurements are referred two as the H1, H2, H3 and H4 measurements.
Finally, all abnormalities on the rack, including odd "sticker" points and points on one beam that don't correspond to points on the other, are added and placed in the "differences" category. These are deducted against the symmetrical measurements.
Petrick measured the antlers from a deer shot by Crosslake resident Bob Hartman. The gross score was 122, but the rack had 3 2/8-inches of deductions, bringing the final score to 118-6/8. Petrick's math was double-checked by another scorer before the score became official.
To make the Pope and Young record book a whitetail rack must score at least 125 typical or 150 non-typical. To make Boone and Crockett, the score must be 170 typical or 195 non-typical.
So far this year a rack that scored 185 is the biggest typical entry into the Pope and Young records from among deer taken in Minnesota. The deer was shot in Washington County. Brent Beimert, bow technician at the Corner Store on Highway 210 west of Brainerd, is entering a rack that scored 192 non-typical. It will rank among the top 20 non-typical deer taken by bow and arrow in Minnesota.
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