By Mike Handley
-- Confused about how to measure whitetail antlers? Then you’d better not read “Rack Up the Points” in the February 2010 issue of Outdoor Life.
The one-page featurette, which attempts to show how a single set of antlers fares by the Boone & Crockett, Safari Club International and Buckmasters yardsticks, falls miserably short.
The deer shown was taken in 1987 by Kevin Boyle. The article lists three scores for the buck from Nova Scotia: 193 6/8 B&C, 205+ SCI and 150 BTR. The B&C tally is the only one correctly identified. The SCI score is purely hypothetical. The BTR score is fiction.
The Kevin Boyle Buck from 1987 scores 185 6/8 as a Typical in “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records” — not “150 cubic inches,” as reported in the February issue of Outdoor Life. The outstanding whitetail is owned by Bass Pro Shops.
The Outdoor Life story says that a Buckmasters score is determined by submerging a rack in water and expressed in cubic inches. While it’s true that a water-displacement system was conceived by Texas veterinarian Joe Burkett many moons ago, that isn’t the way we do it.
The differences between the B&C and BTR systems are not so much in what is measured, how and where, but in the means of determining a final score.
To arrive at a “net” B&C score, they subtract the side-to-side differences between matching typical points. The 2-inch difference between brow tines of 7 and 5 inches, for example, will be deducted. If a rack is a mainframe 5x4 (a 9-pointer) the unmatched point on one side will be deducted. If that 9-point rack is a mainframe 4x4 with a 3-inch drop tine, the drop will take a double hit and become a 6-inch deduction – off the antlers’ true gross score.
Buckmasters, however, has no deductions; we give full credit to every scoreable inch of antler. As a bone registry, we do not include the inside spread in the final BTR score, though it is reflected in what we call a composite score – the number everyone understands and quotes. If you hear Jackie Bushman talking about his 191-inch Alberta buck, he’s speaking of its composite score.
By failing to explain how the different scores are derived for the Boyle Buck, and by listing a completely bogus BTR score, the Outdoor Life piece is comparing real apples to plastic oranges.
Unbeknownst to OL editors, the Boyle Buck was actually scored for “Buckmasters Whitetail Trophy Records” 14 years ago. It comes in at 185 6/8 inches — not the 150 “cubic inches” mentioned in their article. Its BTR composite score, by the way, is 208 4/8.
Mike Handley is the executive director of the BTR and editor of Rack magazine. You can learn more about the world’s fairest measuring system by clicking here.