How to Count Points on a Buck

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Counting points on a buck’s antlers could be comfortable when dealing with younger bucks. The antlers develop with time and acquire more features with every new shedding. They become larger, wider, and acquire even more points. Counting the points on a buck’s antler is one of the methods you can use to rate the antler’s quality.

While several protrusions appear on a buck’s antlers with the time of antler development, some protrusions don’t qualify as points. However, you could follow a recommended process to distinguish mere protrusions from points in an antler.

What is the Best Method of Counting Points on a Buck?

It is common to hear arguments on what the correct method of counting points on a buck is or should be. While some hunters prefer counting the only the points on one side of the antler, others consider counting points on both sides. 

Based on research, right from the old days, hunters preferred counting points from both sides of the antler. The clear reason for this preference is that the number of points is not usually equal all the time. It is possible to get a buck with an odd number of points on its antler. And so, using this method gives an accurate figure of points on the rack.

The other method, where you only count points on one side, would work perfectly well only if the number of points was equal on both sides. Otherwise, you would be leaving out some points uncounted.

How Long Should a Point be to Qualify as an Acceptable Point on Buck’s Antler?

Not every point you find on a buck’s antlers qualifies for an acceptable point that you can count for recording. Some of these are mere protrusions, which you should not consider counting with the main points.

The length of each point is one of the main features hunters consider when rating an antler’s points. You can only rank a protrusion as a valid point on the rack of the buck after measuring its length. For a protrusion to be considered a point, it must measure at least one inch long from the supporting antler’s base, and it has to be longer than it is wide.

How to Determine Points on a Buck

This process of determining points on a buck is easy, and you can get accurate results by following the steps below.

Measuring the Protrusions

You will need to start by measuring every protrusion from the base where they are attached to the main beam to their tips. Any protrusion that you find to measure more than an inch from the main beam qualifies as a point, and you should record it when counting the buck’s points.

Consider End Tips of Main Beams as Points

Every tip of the main beams on the antler qualifies as a point when counting. You should preferably begin by counting them before you ensue on measuring the other protrusions not directly attached to the main beam.

Go for the Non-Typical or Abnormal Points

A non-typical or abnormal point is one that emanates from another point, which is connected to the main beam. You should measure them in the same way you measured the protrusions. Start measuring from the point where it meets with the other point and not from the main beam’s base.

Include Brow Tines for Whitetail Deer

If you count points on a whitetail buck’s antlers, you should consider adding brow tines in your points count. However, if you are dealing with a mule or any other type of deer buck, it may not be necessary to include brow tines in your count.

Make the Additions

The last thing you want to know and take home is the total number of points you have gathered from the rack. Add the totals from the main tips, the protrusions, and the abnormal points that qualified as points.

Why Count the Points on Buck’s Antlers?

Getting the correct number of points on a buck helps the hunter understand the buck much deeper. Apart from the mere bragging escapades hunters have about how they brought down a 10-point buck; there is more to the counting than just that. Some of the reasons hunters count points on a buck include:

To Estimate the Buck’s Age

A hunter needs to know the age of the buck he/she targets to hunt for many reasons. Some hunting grounds restrict hunting of bucks of a certain age. Also, the more mature or old the buck is, the better the quality of its rack. These reasons and more would demand that a hunter understand the buck’s age before hunting it down.

Looking at a buck’s antlers from a distance without counting could help you have a general assumption of the buck’s age or age group. For instance, it is easy to tell whether the buck you are monitoring is a mature adult or just an upcoming youngster by looking at its antlers’ length. A mature buck’s antlers tend to spread far beyond the Antler’s face, while a younger buck’s do not stretch far beyond the face.

Counting the buck’s points helps you get more precise information relating to their age than just observing the antler’s length. This is how the points are distributed according to age.

A 1-2 Years Old Buck

A yearling or a two-year-old buck with superior and adequate nutrition will develop eight or more points on its first set of antlers. So if you spot eight spots on a buck, you are probably handling a one or two-year-old buck’s antler. While it is possible to get an older buck with eight points on its antlers, you should use other relatable features to distinguish an older one from the youngsters.

A 3-5 Years Old Buck

If you spot a 10-point buck, you could probably be staring at a three to five-year-old buck. After about five and a half years, a buck’s antlers may start to shrink in size, and you may need other factors to distinguish their ages. However, a mature and healthy three to five-year-old buck will have ten points on its antlers.  

To Determine the Buck’s Health

A healthy buck will express the effect of its health on its antlers. You will easily tell how healthy a buck is by looking at the number of points it has spotted at a given age. A one to two-year-old buck should spot 4 points on either side of its antlers. If you realize fewer points in a buck within that age group, they may probably be sick or lack essential nutrients that facilitate antler growth.

A mature buck with fewer points on its antlers may not necessarily mean they have poor health or are not eating well. Most mature and old bucks experience a drop in the number of points on their antlers, mainly because of age.

To Protect Younger Bucks

Another reason for counting a buck’s points on the antlers is to help identify their age and maturity then spare the younger ones for the future. Killing a yearling or a two-year-old buck can be great for the meat and hides but would not be ideal for its antlers.

Different hunting ranches impose different hunting rules to protect the young bucks for future hunting. Counting the point on a buck’s antlers is the quickest way you could estimate its age before taking the shot.


Regardless of the method you use to count the points on a buck, you should always make sure that all the antlers’ points are counted. If you settle for the method that concentrates on a single side, you should ensure all the sides bear the same number of points. Otherwise, the other method should always suffice in all counting processes.

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