Antlers will abound throughout the Palmetto State as the search for new state record deer antlers gets underway during the S.C. Department of Natural Resources' annual series of scoring sessions.

Each year during March, the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scores deer antlers throughout the state, with a major scoring effort during the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic March 23-25 at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia. A total of 4,641 sets of white-tailed deer antlers, including 4,347 typical racks and 166 nontypical, are currently ranked on South Carolina's all-time antler records list, according to Charles Ruth, Deer and Turkey Project supervisor for DNR.  

Minimum scores for state record listing are 125 points for typical antlers and 145 points for nontypical antlers. Scoring is based on the Boone and Crockett system.

The objectives of the state records list are to recognize outstanding animals and to identify areas that produce quality deer, according to Ruth. This information allows biologists to take a closer look at habitat, deer herd condition, and offer land management suggestions to landowners.

For more information on deer antler scoring, call the Columbia DNR office at (803) 734-3886.

Although record deer have been recorded from all counties, Aiken, Anderson, and Orangeburg counties have produced the greatest numbers in the past three to four years. Generally, larger deer are more abundant in areas that have fewer deer, as compared to parts of the state with high deer numbers, according to Ruth.

Last year's scoring sessions produced 136 new entries into the South Carolina records list, including two bucks that met criteria for entry into Boone and Crockett's three-year awards period list.
Hunters must provide necessary documentation, such as the date and county of the kill, and sign a "fair chase" statement when they bring in a set of antlers for scoring. Broken and repaired racks or antlers separated from the skull plate cannot be officially measured for the state records list.

If the lower jawbone of the animal was extracted during taxidermy or otherwise saved, it should be brought to the scoring session so biologists can determine the deer's age. An accurate weight measurement at the time of the kill is also helpful.

   * Thursday, March 1, 2-8 p.m., Clemson, Tri-County Ace Hardware, SC 123 across from Ramada Inn, (864) 654-6950
  * Friday, March 2, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.  Bath, Wilson's Taxidermy, 158 Victory Lane, (803) 593-3357
  * Tuesday, March 6, 2-8 p.m., Belton, Finley's Taxidermy, 4027 Belhaven Road, (864) 224-5464
  * Thursday, March 8, 2-8 p.m., Taylors, Rock's Country Store, 430 Groce Meadows Rd., (864) 895-8324
  * Tuesday, March 13, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Walterboro, Colleton County, Clemson University Cooperative Extension Office, 219 S. Lemacks St., (803) 625-3569
  * Friday, March 16, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  Barnwell, USDA Service Center, 100 Fuldner Road, (803) 259-7143
  * Friday, March 23, noon to 8 p.m., Columbia, Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, State Fairgrounds, (803) 734-3886
  * Saturday, March 24, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Columbia, Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, State Fairgrounds, (803) 734-3886
  * Sunday, March 25, 1:30-6 p.m., Columbia, Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, State Fairgrounds, (803) 734-3886
  * Thursday, March 29, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Bonneau, Dennis Wildlife Center, 305 Black Oak Road, (843) 825-3387
  * Abbeville:  At DNR office, 2751 Highway 72 East, Abbeville, by appointment only during March, (864) 223-2731
  * Florence:  At DNR office, 2007 Pisgah Road, Florence, by appointment only during March, (843) 661-4768
  * St. Matthews: Calhoun County Agricultural Building, 912 F.R. Huff Drive, St. Matthews, by appointment only during March, (803) 655-5809