Thursday, March 10, 2011

Men are silly

“Men are silly.  Can’t you just look at a deer and see which one is bigger?”
James Atkins, Bill Howard, and Stan Spotswood measuring
a bowkill at the 2011 Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh, NC.
That was the question my wife gave me when I left to go to the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh this last weekend.  I was one of many volunteers scoring deer for the show.  It posed a good question, and I had to think about it a little.  If the numbering system was used correctly, I would say there were some 700 plus trophies turned in to be scored.  It kept the volunteers busy for the most part.  I started out working with Mr. James Atkins, a fellow member of the North Carolina Bowhunter’s Association and an officer with the Raleigh Police Department.  James was training to become an official scorer with the NCBA, and the process includes measuring as many antlers as you can.  Of course, he could have had a better teacher, as I skipped a whole section on our first deer we scored.  Luckily James was wise enough to figure out I was NOT a great teacher, and asked about the missed section on the second deer, allowing me to humble myself to the officials with the Wake County Wildlife Club and ask for the deer back to be re-scored.  James and I came to know each other pretty well through the show, and it once again proves the camaraderie that forms between people who love the outdoors.
Back to the question though; are we really that competitive to find out whose is bigger?  Well the answer is no.  The scoring of a deer involves many measurements, lengths of the antlers, circumference of the antlers (measured at different locations), and length of the tines.  The score we get does give an indication of how big the deer’s antlers are, but the reason we score is to see what it takes to make a ‘perfect’ rack.  Deer antlers get deductions for abnormal or missing points and differences in lengths and circumferences of the antlers.  These deductions are often what determine whether a deer will make it in the record book or not.
Usually a hunter will tell of how many points his deer has and his spread (the greatest inside distance between the antlers).  But this does not tell the whole story.  If someone took an 8 pointer, was it 4 points on each antler placed symmetrically, or was it more like a 6 pointer with 2 small points sticking haphazardly out?  What we are attempting to accomplish is perfection, an 8 pointer with 4 points on each side, each of the same length, out of the same spot.  Michelangelo should not be able to paint one better.  A ‘perfect’ 8 will be just as nice looking as a ‘perfect’ 12 pointer, and look better than a 13 pointer with 9 points coming off one side.
So while the higher score usually means the deer was bigger, it also means the deer was closer to perfection in relation to its size (most of the time).  It’s a good thing women do not have an elaborate system scoring men.  After working the show all weekend, I would hate to see the score my wife would give me.
By the way, I would have to give my wife a ‘perfect’ 10 for her understanding and watching the home front (and that’s not by the antler method)…

Bill Howard is a Hunter Education and Bowhunter Education Instructor , a Wildlife Representative and BCRS Program Chairman for the North Carolina Bowhunters Association, and an avid outdoorsman.  Please forward any pictures or stories you would like shared to


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