MAKENZIE’S OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Scoring deer at Rack Madness

The score is something hunters use for bragging rights, but it also offers wildlife biologists great insight into the health of the deer population.
Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 2:51 PM CST
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KSWO) -The score of a deer can be found by using a very detailed measuring system, which takes into account the lengths of the main beams and tines, as well as it’s mass.

In the latest edition of Makenzie’s Outdoor Adventures, she went to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation’s annual Rack Madness event, to learn how to score a deer.

The score is something hunters use for bragging rights, but it also offers wildlife biologists great insight into the health of the deer population.

“So it’s just a metric that kind of hunters will measure each other against. It’s also a really big measure for looking at the overall health of a deer,” said Dallas Barber, Big Game Wildlife Biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. “It’s a really good representation of habitat conditions, age, nutrition, things like that which go into antler development. It gives us like I’ve said a really good index of rainfall in certain parts of the state, what habitat conditions are like in certain parts of the state, what areas or regions people are really starting to focus on developing those antlers in their deer. So it really kind of gives us an in touch view of what’s going on on the ground.”

A buck usually reaches peak antler development around five and a half to six and a half years old. That’s where they are able to measure the peak of available nutrition, and genetic potential.

To measure antlers, horns or skulls, Big Game Wildlife Biologist Dallas Barber says they use a national scoring system.

“All of our deer are scored using the Boone and Crockett system which is kind of a universal scoring system,” said Barber. “That takes into account some things like the inside spread of these main beams and the mass measurements. There are 8 mass measurements. And then the lengths of these tines.”

Events like Rack Madness, are a great way to get as many animals scored as possible.

Elijah Jackson is one of the many hunters who took advantage of the free opportunity to get his biggest buck to date scored.

“I killed him in McLain County behind my wife’s family’s property and it was a pretty typical rut hunt you know,” said Jackson. “November 18th he came in checking a doe bedding area and I grunted him into 20 yards with my bow and it was all it took.”

He says he’s never had a buck scored, and had a few guesses on what it might measure at.

“My buddies and I have talked about it,” said Jackson. “It’s kind of it’s a weird one he’s not typical so I’m thinking my guess is like 155 and my buddy is thinking might break 160 so who knows.”

It’s a special honor to be added to the state’s Cy Curtis Program, which recognizes big game animals and the hunters who harvest them. The minimum requirement for a typical whitetail rack, is 135 inches.

Rack Madness is held around the same time every year, and it’s free to get it officially scored. Barber says if you plan to come get a rack scored, make sure your bring your confirmation number from the harvest.

He says if you aren’t able to attend an official scoring event like Rack Madness, you can contact your local game warden, for help finding an official scorer.

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