Field Judging – Whitetail Deer

Video is an 8 point buck good

The Boone and Crockett Club recognizes two categories of whitetail deer. The larger and the more familiar to most of us is the common whitetail, which is found in Mexico, all but a handful of states in the United States, and in many parts of Canada. The other is the Coues’ deer, a small-bodied whitetail with correspondingly smaller antlers that is found in the deserts and deciduous woodlands of southwestern New Mexico, Arizona, and northwestern Mexico. No part of the Coues’ deer’s current range is inhabited by the larger whitetail, thus separating the two subspecies.

The first thing you will notice about a large whitetail buck’s rack is the overall height and width, followed by the number of points, and mass. When assessing a potential trophy’s score, we need to look at the lengths of the main beams, lengths of the points, the inside spread of the main beams, and the mass or circumference of the main beams at four locations.

These things can be quickly evaluated in the field with a few simple calculations. To do this we need things of known sizes to visually compare the antlers to and in this case we will use the deer’s ears, eyes, and nose. While this can be an inexact science considering the range of sizes from the diminutive Coues’ deer to the bulky giants of Canada, we are going to throw out the biggest and the smallest and take an average of the most common whitetails found in the United States. The average buck, with his ears in an alert position, has an ear tip-to-tip spread of 16 inches. His ears will measures six inches from the base to the tip. The circumference of his eye is four inches, and from the center of the eye to the end of his nose should measure about eight inches. These will be our “rulers” for antler size estimation. If you are hunting in an area that traditionally produces huge-bodied deer, or if you are hunting the little Coues’ deer, you will need to adjust your “rulers” accordingly.

See also  .243 Winchester vs .30-06 Springfield Ammo Comparison - Ballistics Info & Chart Caliber Ballistics Comparison 07 Dec, 2018 Posted By: Foundry Outdoors The following ammunition cartridge ballistics information and chart can be used to approximately compare .243 Winchester vs .30-06 Springfield ammo rounds. Please note, the following information reflects the estimated average ballistics for each caliber and does not pertain to a particular manufacturer, bullet weight, or jacketing type. As such, the following is for comparative information purposes only and should not be used to make precise predictions of the trajectory, performance, or true ballistics of any particular .243 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield rounds for hunting, target shooting, plinking, or any other usage. The decision for which round is better for a given application should be made with complete information, and this article simply serves as a comparative guide, not the final say. For more detailed ballistics information please refer to the exact round in question or contact the manufacturer for the pertinent information. True .243 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield ballistics information can vary widely from the displayed information, and it is important to understand that the particular characteristics of a given round can make a substantive difference in its true performance. Caliber Type Velocity (fps) Energy (ft-lb) .243 Winchester Rifle 3180 1950 .30-06 Springfield Rifle 2820 2920 [Click Here to Shop .243 Winchester Ammo] [Click Here to Shop .30-06 Springfield Ammo] VelocityAs illustrated in the chart, .243 Winchester rounds - on average - achieve a velocity of about 3180 feet per second (fps) while .30-06 Springfield rounds travel at a velocity of 2820 fps. To put this into perspective, a Boeing 737 commercial airliner travels at a cruising speed of 600 mph, or 880 fps. That is to say, .243 Winchester bullets travel 3.6 times the speed of a 737 airplane at cruising speed, while .30-06 Springfield bullets travel 3.2 times that same speed.Various calibersEnergyFurthermore, the muzzle energy of a .243 Winchester round averages out to 1950 ft-lb, while a .30-06 Springfield round averages out to about 2920 ft-lb. One way to think about this is as such: a foot-pound is a unit of energy equal to the amount of energy required to raise a weight of one pound a distance of one foot. So a .243 Winchester round exits the barrel with kinetic energy equal to the energy required for linear vertical displacement of 1950 pounds through a one foot distance, while a .30-06 Springfield round exiting the barrel has energy equal to the amount required to displace 2920 pounds over the same one foot distance. As a rule of thumb, when it comes to hunting, muzzle energy is what many hunters look at when deciding on what caliber of firearm / ammunition to select. Generally speaking, the higher the muzzle energy, the higher the stopping power. Again, the above is for comparative information purposes only, and you should consult the exact ballistics for the particular .243 Winchester or .30-06 Springfield cartridge you're looking at purchasing. [Buy .243 Winchester Ammo] [Buy .30-06 Springfield Ammo] Please click the above links to take a look at all of the .243 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield ammo we have in stock and ready to ship, and let us know any parting thoughts in the comment section below.Foundry Outdoors is your trusted home for buying archery, camping, fishing, hunting, shooting sports, and outdoor gear online.We offer cheap ammo and bulk ammo deals on the most popular ammo calibers. We have a variety of deals on Rifle Ammo, Handgun Ammo, Shotgun Ammo & Rimfire Ammo, as well as ammo for target practice, plinking, hunting, or shooting competitions. Our website lists special deals on 9mm Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 45-70 Ammo, 6.5 Creedmoor ammo, 300 Blackout Ammo, 10mm Ammo, 5.56 Ammo, Underwood Ammo, Buffalo Bore Ammo and more special deals on bulk ammo.We offer a 100% Authenticity Guarantee on all products sold on our website. Please email us if you have questions about any of our product listings. Leave a commentComments have to be approved before showing up Your Name * Your Email * Your Comment * Post Comment


Assuming you can get a frontal view, estimating a buck’s inside spread should be easy. Is he outside of his ear tips? If so, by how much? For example, if his main beam appears to be half an ear or three inches outside the ear tip on each side, then by adding 6 to 16 we find that he has a 22-inch spread.

Judging the length of the main beams is next. A general rule of thumb is to look for a buck whose main beams appear to extend forward as far as the tip of his nose. However, by using this criterion alone, a long-beamed buck might be passed over if you only have a side view and the buck has a wide spread and/or its antlers turn sharply in so that the main beam tips nearly touch. Also, be aware of the buck whose beams tower above its head before sweeping forward as this adds valuable inches to an otherwise average looking main beam. The actual main beam length is estimated using our ear length and eye to nose “rulers.”

Next, and to many, the most impressive features of a trophy whitetail are the number and lengths of the points on his rack. The Boone and Crockett Club defines a point on a whitetail or Coues’ deer as “any projection at least one inch long and longer than it is wide at one inch or more of length.” Since most whitetails are hunted in or near heavy cover where there may only be seconds to assess their antlers, we need a quick way to count points.

Points may be quickly counted by assuming that an overwhelming majority of mature whitetail bucks grow a brow tine on each antler and that the main beam tip usually lies almost horizontally. This allows us to count the standing normal points G-2, G-3, G-4, etc., and quickly add that to the number 2 (brow tine and beam tip). With this method you can quickly determine that a buck with two standing normal points per side is a 4×4 or 8-pointer, and with three standing points per side he is a 5×5 or 10-pointer, and so on, with the exception of Coues’ whitetail. Nearly all the bucks that make the records book have at least five normal points per side. The length of the points can be estimated using the same “rulers” we used for the main beams.

See also  Top Lures and Tactics for Summertime River Smallmouth Bass

The typical pattern of a mature whitetail’s antler development is an unbranched main beam that normally develops from three to seven (sometimes more) unbranched points per antler at roughly spaced intervals. Any other points are considered “abnormal” and their lengths are deducted from the score if the buck is scored as a typical or added to the score if it is being scored as a non-typical.

Estimating the mass or circumference measurements of the antler is where we use our deer’s four-inch eye circumference as the “ruler.” Compare the antler at H-1, H-2, etc., to the eye. How much bigger is the antler? If it were half again bigger, the circumference measurement at that point would be about six inches.

Ideally, the rack should be viewed from the front and the side especially when judging the main beams. However, this isn’t always possible and sometimes you will just have to go with your gut feeling. But beware of the rear view, as it can be deceiving. From this angle you get an exaggerated impression of the antler’s height and spread.

The most practical way to practice your field-judging skills is to estimate the score of mounted heads. Use the buck’s “rulers” to estimate the score, then check your calculations by actually measuring the rack. With a little practice, you will be surprised how close your estimates will become. One last word of advice, when the time comes to shoot, don’t bother looking at the antlers one more time. It can cause your nervous system to do strange things.

See also  Vertical Jigging Strategies for White Bass



Coues’ deer are miniature, desert-dwelling cousins of the familiar whitetail. Therefore, you are looking for the same features as in whitetails, only reduced in expression. Coues’ deer antlers tend to form semi-circles, with the antler tips often pointing toward each other. Seldom will a Coues’ deer show the “wide-open” look that is fairly common in whitetails. Often, there is very little distance between the antler tips, and some may nearly touch each other. A mature Coues’ deer antler set may well look like a small whitetail set, although usually developed to a more “finished” look overall. Interestingly, the antler beams of Coues’ deer may well be nearly as thick as those on a mature whitetail.

There will be at least three well-developed points (plus beam tip) on each antler for a near-book typical Coues’ deer trophy, and the inside spread will need to be near 15 inches. The general look of the rack will be mature, with the second point on each antler being usually the longest of the side and the antler tips pointing toward each other.

A large non-typical Coues’ deer will show these qualities plus several noticeable abnormal points. Roughly, the abnormal points will need to total about 10 inches (current typical all-time records book minimum entry score is 110 and that for non-typical is 120), which means generally about three or four abnormal points on the rack.


Previous articleGlock 17 vs 19. Which is Better? [2022]
Next articleHow To Attach a Weight To a Fishing Line: 6 Types
Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>