Thursday, March 8, 2012

Trophy vs Experience

Is it the experience, or the trophy? 

This weekend I spent the better part of the days waiting on huge antlers to cross the curtain at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh.  Saturday kicked in with, now this is hear-say, a record attendance for one day.  Friday and Sunday were not bad, but Saturday forced show goers to walk shoulder to shoulder at times.

While the number of heads to be scored seemed slower than past years, the quality was certainly there.  A scorer at a trophy show such as the Dixie Deer Classic is given some basic training, and usually paired with another experienced scorer during his first event.  Typical racks rarely present a problem.  Cut and dry measurements are taken in which the main issues are usually mistakes in adding fractions or judgments on whether something is a point or not and whether the measurement on the ruler should be rounded up or down an 8th of an inch.
Steven Patterson, Bill Howard, Cole Carr, and Amanda Carr
scoring at the Dixie Deer Classic in Raleigh, NC.
Photo by Ryan Miller
For non-typical racks, things can be a little trickier.  Often, the ones with a lot of ‘junk’ are left to the brave souls willing to attempt what amounts to a tedious, and time consuming ordeal.  Properly trained scorers usually make the right calls on these interesting and challenging antlers.  Then, there are some that require judgment calls that can affect the overall scores greatly.  Without getting to deep in the science, maybe even art, of scoring tough antlers, scorers take it very seriously and often recruit help from other trained scorers for their opinions as well.  Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young trained scorers take on the difficult, and potential record book mounts with passion that is often equal to the same passion the hunter exudes on his trophy quest.  Accuracy is first and foremost the top priority in order to properly honor the game animal.

Now to answer the question from the beginning of this column.  Sunday, a hunter was dissatisfied with the score received on his deer.  In order to assure proper measurements were taken, not only did another scorer volunteer to re-score the trophy, but a panel of scorers worked together on the deer.  The deer was mounted in a beautiful half body pose.  The rack, still in velvet as the deer was taken early in the season, had what appeared to be a split in the main beam of the right antler.  This is where the judgment call came into play.  If one part of the split was taken as the main beam over the other, it could sway the official score by a rather large sum.  My opinion was also the opinion of other more experienced scorers, and resulted in a lower score.  The hunter was visibly disappointed.

But my response was it was a beautiful deer, an outstanding example of taxidermy, and a trophy that could and should be valued for a lifetime.  Couple that with the actual experience of not only seeing such a wonderful animal in the wild, but successful in the harvesting of that animal, and there should be no disappointment what so ever.  If we only hunt for the trophy, the experience means less.  However, if we hunt for the experience, then the trophy means much more.


  1. I like to see good mounts up for trophy's. I know I have a few that could go in the record books.

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