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How to score and field judge elk - Part 2

 

This is part two in the how to score and field judge elk series. If you missed part one, you can check it out here.

Last time I discussed air judging, estimate actual measurements method, magic number/estimate shortest points method and a short four part how to score an elk video series. This time around we are going to dive deeper into field juding and scoring bulls.

Quick scoring example:

Here is an example with the actual measurements of the bull that was harvested by Colburn and Scott Outfitters hunter Tim Allen in 2009 in Arizona Unit 10 during the archery hunt.

How to field judge bull elk - right and left antler side

How to field judge bull elk - front and rear antler view

Estimate actual measurements

Left side: 19, 19, 14, 20, 17, 57, 30 = 176"
Right side: 21, 18, 15, 21, 16, 58, 30 = 179"
Spread: 40"
Total: 176 + 179 + 40 = 395" gross

Estimate shortest points

19,18, 14, 20, 16 = 87 x 2 = 174"
174 + 200 = 374"
Mass: +0 (30 per side)
Main beam: +14 (57 per side)
Spread: +0 (40 inches)
Total: 374 + 0 + 14 + 0 = 388" gross

Here are the actual numbers

Left side - (G1-G5) 20, 19 4/8, 16, 22 2/8, 13 6/8, (H1-H4) 8 4/8, 7 6/8, 7 4/8, 6 1/8, Main beam: 58 2/8 = 179 5/8
Right side - (G1-G5) 21, 19, 17 6/8, 23 6/8, 14, (H1-H4)8 5/8, 7 4/8, 7 1/8, 6, Main beam: 59 = 183 6/8
Inside spread: 37 inches
Total gross score: 400 3/8" (6 5/8" of deductions)
Net score: 393 6/8"

Here is the breakdown of the numbers and percentage to total gross score

Points - (Left) 91 4/8 + (Right) 95 4/8 = 187" or 46.7%
Main Beam - (Left) 58 2/8 + (Right) 59= 117 2/8" or 29.2%
Mass - (Left) 29 7/8 + (Right) 29 2/8 = 59 1/8" or 14.75%
Inside spread = 37" or 9.25%

Seven part elk field judging and scoring video series:

Part 1 - estimating shortest points method


Part 2 - using the shortest points method


Part 3 - using the estimating shortest points method and actual measurements


Part 4 - using the estimating shortest points method


Part 5 - using the estimating shortest points method

(bull was also taken by KUIU's Jason Hairston)


Part 6 - learn to notice a bull's weakness


Part 7 - using the actual measurements and estimating shortest points method

 

Field judging tips
 

Bull elk depth of body measurement
Bull elk depth of body from back to belly measurement. Photo credit: Lauren Moxley
  • Point length is the single most important ingredient for a bull to score high. Next is main beam length. It is rare to have a high scoring bull without long points and beams.
  • On a typical 7x7, the point measurement is going to go up dramatically. For instance, a typical 7x7 will usually have sixth points that measure from four to 20” per side, which can add an extra eight to 40” to the bull’s total gross score. Note: On a typical 7x7, you do not receive any extra mass measurements.
  • Look for any weaknesses or broken/missing points as they can affect the score dramatically.
  • Use anatomical references to judge measurements.
  • Count the number of points on each side because if something looks odd it usually is.
  • The main beam length from burr to fourth point is usually around 30”. Make sure that you compare that to the length of the main beam from the fourth point to tip of the beam. If it looks like it is about half as long (15”), then the total length is closer to 45”. If it looks equally as long, then it might be pushing 60”.
  • Main beams are rarely 60” or more. Inside spread measurements are rarely over 45” and mass is rarely over 32” per side.
  • Try to err on the short side when estimating measurements.
  • Look for good spacing between the points. If the points look close together, the beams are probably not as long as you think.
  • If a beam or point looks straight, then it will be shorter than you think. Look for lots of belly or curve in points and the main beam. Curve means greater length.

Field judging reference charts:
 

Bull elk top of back to hoof measurment
From the top of the hump on the back to the hoof is 54-58". Photo credit: Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters
 

Anatomical elk references

Antler burr to tip of nose 15” to 16”
Front of eye to tip of nose 12” to 13”
Inside of eye to inside of eye 7” to 8”
Top of back to bottom of belly 30”
Top of back to hoof 54-58"
Tip of ear to tip of ear 21” to 22”
Ear length (base to tip) 7.5”

 

Normal percentages of gross score

Tine Length - 45%
Main beam - 28%
Mass - 16%
Spread - 11%

 

Average measurements

 

Spread

Main
beam

Mass Point
length
Added
up
Total
300-310" bull 35" 45" x 2 25" x 2 13" x 5 x 2 35+90+50+130 305"
320-330" bull 37" 47" x 2 27" x 2 14" x 5 x 2 37+94+54+140 325"
340-350" bull 38" 50" x 2 29" x 2 15" x 5 x 2 38+100+58+150 346"
360-370" bull 39" 52" x 2 30" x 2 16" x 5 x 2 39+104+60+160 363"
380-390" bull 40" 53" x 2 30" x 2 18" x 5 x 2 40+106+60+180 386"
400"+ bull 40" 53" x 2 31" x 2 20" x 5 x 2 40+106+62+200 408"


It is an art
 

Field judging elk is an art, while measuring dead elk is a science! One of the best ways to improve your field judging skills is to practice field judging bulls before actually measuring them. I hope these scoring methods and tips will come in handy when trying to field judge your trophy bull, but remember: it is more important to measure your hunt success by the memories and quality experience gained than by the size of the antlers you bring home.

2 Comments

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David_Linton
David L. - posted 1 year ago on 12-26-2015 10:08:12 pm
Portland, OR
goHUNT INSIDER

Really great article and visuals. Probably will need to write down these references in my field notebook for when the time comes to score some bulls next fall.

jayscottoutdoors
Jay S. - posted 1 year ago on 12-28-2015 01:54:57 pm
Scottsdale, AZ
goHUNT Team

David L- Glad you found value in the article! Good Luck on your hunts next fall!