The SCDNR holds about twelve antler scoring sessions throughout the state each year. One of the biggest takes place during the annual Palmetto Sportsman’s Classic in Columbia during the spring. The scoring sessions determine whether or not a hunter’s deer will make it into South Carolina’s Antler Records List, commonly referred to by hunters as “the record book.”
Deer and Wild Turkey Program Coordinator Charles Ruth said the SCDNR scores about 500 sets of antlers each year, and that only about 25-percent of those scored will make the record book. Those that don’t make it usually fall short because they simply don’t meet the minimum scores, he said.
The list is updated every year or so, and is published online. Publishing it in print would be too costly, so the SCDNR makes the list available on their website. The latest copy is available here.
The records list isn’t just for giving bragging rights to hunters. Ruth said it also helps wildlife biologists determine what makes an area a good place for deer.
“The purpose of the Antler Records Program is two-fold,” Ruth said. “First, because of the increased interest in deer hunting exhibited by sportsmen, it is a means of recognizing outstanding white-tailed deer taken in South Carolina. Secondly, it provides management information that allows SCDNR wildlife biologists to identify areas that produce quality deer. When particular areas stand out, it is important to attempt to recognize the underlying characteristics that produce outstanding animals.”
In a nutshell, the SCDNR uses the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system, which takes the mass and symmetry of the antlers into account. There is a typical category and a non-typical category.
“The scoring system is based primarily on antler size and symmetry and includes measurements of the main beams, greatest inside spread of the beams, circumference measurements at certain designated locations, and the number and length of the points. To be counted as a point, a projection must be at least one inch long, and it must be longer than it is wide at the base,” said Ruth.
Abnormal points and symmetrical differences result in deductions, and there is a minimum 60-day drying period before a set of antlers can be officially scored. Anything measured before that 60-day period is referred to as “green-scored.”
The minimum score for South Carolina’s record book is 125 for a typical rack, and 145 for a non-typical rack.