Doug Cisson is proud of the 9-point buck he killed late last season in Pickens County, but also knows that a broken brow tine on the deer's antlers is likely to cost it a spot in South Carolina's all-time record book.

Chip Burdett is confident that the 11-point buck he shot last season in Greenville County will make the record book, but he has no idea where it may stack up on the Boone and Crockett scale.

This much is certain – both hunters are about to find out.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will conduct its annual series of statewide antler-scoring sessions during the month of March, with several hundred sets of antlers expected to be measured during the effort.

"You hear this and that, but you don't always get confirmation on it," said Charles Ruth, SCDNR's deer-project supervisor. "But now we're on the cusp of sorting some of this out."

Exclusive scoring sessions are set for five locations – Anderson, Bath, Bonneau, Greenville and Six Mile –with an additional three days of antler scoring scheduled during the Palmetto Sportsman's Classic March 23-25 at the State Fairgrounds in Columbia.

Also, antler scoring will be done by appointment at SCDNR regional offices in Clemson, Columbia, Florence, Garnett, Georgetown, Greenwood and Union.

Typical sets of antlers must score a minimum of 125 Boone and Crockett points to qualify for the state's all-time record book while non-typical racks need a score of at least 145 points.

Last year's scoring sessions resulted in 211 new record-book entries – the third-highest total of entries in the past 15 years.

"Hunters like this program," Ruth said. "And that explains why there are over 5,500 sets of antlers on our all-time list."

Still, record-book bucks remain a rarity – over the long term, approximately one out of every 824 bucks harvested qualifies for the record book.

The scoring sessions also have resulted in the placing of four typical sets of antlers on the Boone and Crockett all-time list (170 minimum score) and two on the all-time non-typical list (185 minimum score) since 1974.

"The scoring sessions also help identify the parts of the state where the better deer are coming from, and the habitat conditions that exist there that are producing those kinds of animals," Ruth said.

Ruth attributes much of the recent record-book successes to a statewide deer population that has not only leveled off, but declined in many areas.

"We're not carrying deer like we did 10 years ago," Ruth said. "The correlation between deer numbers and quality is starting to show a little bit."

Hunters who are having antlers scored must provide documentation, such as the date and county of the kill, and sign a "fair chase" statement. Antlers in velvet or those that are broken and repaired or antlers separated from the skull plate cannot be officially measured.

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

• March 1: Anderson, Grady's Great Outdoors, 2-8 p.m. (864.226.5283)
• March 2: Bath, Wilson's Taxidermy, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (803.593.3357)
• March 6: Greenville, Luthi's Outfitters, 2-8 p.m. (864.233.0551)
• March 8: Six Mile, Durham's Convenience Store, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (864.868.2070)
• March 23-25: Columbia, Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic, State Fairgrounds, noon-8 p.m. (803.734.3886)
• March 28: Bonneau, Dennis Wildlife Center, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (843.825.3387)

SouthCarolinaSportsman.com will be on hand during the Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic to photograph as many of the bucks entered into those sessions as possible, with a photo gallery appearing on this site.

Other scoring sessions held by appointment only:

• Clemson: DNR office, during March only (864.654.1671, ext. 16)
• Columbia: DNR office, any time of year (803.734.8738)
• Florence: DNR office, Fridays during March (843.661.4768)
• Garnett: Webb Wildlife Center, during March only (803.625.3569)
• Georgetown: Samworth WMA office, Monday afternoons during March, noon-5 p.m (843.546.8665)
• Greenwood: DNR office, during March only (864.223.2731)
• Union: DNR office, during March only (864.427.5140)