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Hurteau: Help Me Score This Buck

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November 13, 2009

Hurteau: Help Me Score This Buck

By Dave Hurteau

A guest post from Special Projects Editor (and Field Notes News Blogger) Dave Hurteau.

I know. It’s not the greatest photo. But it was the best I could do from a treestand, in low light, as the buck cruised by on the heels of a doe.

Last night I returned from an 8-day bowhunt in southern Iowa with F&S Whitetail columnist Scott Bestul. We had a mission: Kill a 150-inch buck. On November 6th, the third day of the trip, with the rut kicking in, we hung a stand in a pinch point between thick doe bedding cover along the edge of a standing corn field. That afternoon, I ... ... staked a subdominant buck decoy about 15 yards off the stand in a small opening in the otherwise thick hedge pasture, then climbed up to my perch.

Before long, a yearling 8-pointer cruised in from my left, spotted the fake and moved closer, slowly circling the decoy as a snapped a few pictures. 

All was quite after that until about a half hour before dark when I heard hurried steps to my left and saw a mature doe running toward the pinch point, looking harried. She spotted the decoy, balked for a moment, then blew through at 10 yards. I thought, “Here we go.” And there he was—a big-bodied buck dogging in the doe’s footsteps, showing lots of bone between the brush and branches. As I drew my bow, he spotted the decoy and stopped dead. Every hair on his body stood up and he started slowly circling the deke in a wide arc, first along the far side, then round to the near, and eventually straight downwind of the imposter, not 5 yards from the base of my tree.

That’s when I decided.

I let down, and quietly reached into my backpack for my camera. So my question to you is--considering that the goal was 150 inches and this was the third day of the hunt—did I make the right decision? Am I nuts? Go ahead, I can take it (I think). But here's one thing to consider. The blur of the camera makes the buck look like he could be a 10-pointer. He’s isn’t. I had plenty of time to count tines. He’s a straight 8.

Anyway, that said, what do you think he scores? If you were shooting for a 150, would you be shooting?

Comments (33)

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from matakis wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I would guess him to have a 16" spread possibly 8 inch g2's and 6 inch g3's.

I would score him around 125 to 135.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from VABOWHUNTER wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree, probably a touch wider than 16" but low 130's would be my guess. Th blurred pic makes it hard to figure mass but he doesn't appear to have a whole lot of it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree that he probably isn't 150 class, but I'm very unfamiliar with the way scoring is done and terrible at guessing the numbers. Don't feel too bad about leaving him be. I'd probably pass on him until the late season. Plenty of time to fill a bunch of doe tags. I've been spoiled, and hunting here makes me wait for the really big older ones now. This guy doesn't look terribly old. No way he's more than 3 1/2, but I don't know, we have 2 1/2 year olds looking like him here in OH.

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from udelhofe wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I score this buck at 125"

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from Koldkut wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I shot about a 150" 8 point mulie, he isn't nearly tall enough, good call on waiting for 150 is that is your goal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

1.past the ears
2. tines longer than the ears
3. symmetrical looking
4. dominant looking
I'm just guessing but I would say he's close to that 150" mark you were hoping for (just a touch less). I think I would've taken him based on your conditions.

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from stickbow13 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

i would have to say 140's to mid 140's any way you look at it it's a nice buck

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I have two 16" wide bucks on my wall, he's wider, 17 or 18". Though he won't go 150", it's tough to score them on the hoof. I applaud your restraint, as i probably would've shot him even with that goal in mind. No regrets though. It feels good to let nice bucks walk. Hope he makes it till next year. He's got good body size and is definetly mature.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree with the rest, he is not 150. Very respectable buck; would be hard to pass up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

a solid 120 buck, maybe next season he'll be closer to your standards.

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from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'd call him about 130" gross

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from beers123 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Tough call. I have past up a lot of bucks smaller than him waiting on 1 his size. The deer don't have a long enough life span to get super huge here. Not saying that they don't but most of the time they get shot early in life. I would not agree with 120-135. If I was guessing which I am I would say 135+ just my guess though. There are a lot smarter guys on this site than me though.

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from Walt Smith wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm sure who ever is hunting on the adjoining properties where you were hunting will be able to let you know.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

17 in spread
22 in rt beam
22 in left beam
16 in mass rt
16 in mass left
18 in tine lenght left
18 in tine length rt
I have no calculator but I think it scores 129

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from PETESMEAT wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

142 IS THE NUMBER FOR YOU

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from neuman23 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Good call, I wouldn't put him much past the mid 130's. But the photo is really hard to tell for sure.

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from Dances with Deer wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Mid-130s to 140 range, nice looking deer

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from Judd McCullum wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Dave, you made the right call letting him walk. This same dilemma has had many a hunter in it's grips in my area, especially the out-o-state kind. Many err on the side of just wanting a buck and end up killing a two or three year old that would be an absolute giant if he kept his walking papers. You practiced good management in this instance. I hope you took home a couple does for your trouble. That'd earn you an +A with the locals around here.

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from jamesti wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

20 inches from ear tip to ear tip. he's well past that. the problem is that he has no mass. i'd say around 130-135. i would have taken him but i'm mainly a meat hunter and that is a nice rack.

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from NYhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I wouldn't be able to pass that buck! I would say around the mid 130's . Good job geting him in though. Just think of how big he will be next year!

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from njhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

this buck is not quite 140. My guess would be 138.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BuckBoss wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Yep, I agree with most everyone... 130's. I just shot a ten that should score mid 140's and he is way bigger than the eight. Good decision to let him walk, just hope it pays off now! Good luck and happy hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Oh for gods sake just shoot him, enjoy the venison and throw the rack in the corner of the garage with the rest of them.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

well said Walt. There was a time when you never put a tape measure to a rack,... it was either "nice" or it was "piddly", either way it was meat in the icebox.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 60256 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think it funny every time I hear "I would pass up on that buck". If that was on our property, he would be down so fast he didn't know what hit him! We just don't get bucks like that around here. And here you are "eh I can get better". It's sickening.

Nate

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think he just fell short of your 150 goal he looks 130-140,but I'd do anything for a deer like that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffo52284 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

If it is only the third day i would hold out for the buck you came for. he is a strong 130 but not the 150 you were looking for. with five days left i think you made the right decision to pass

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from Dave Hurteau wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Looks like most of you have pretty much confirmed my guess. Thanks. The angle of the photo foreshortens his spread a bit; he was a little wider than it appears here. When I let down, I was thinking 135-ish.
I passed because we had a stated goal--and this was a rare opportunity. At home in upstate New York, where I'm pretty much a meat hunter, this buck goes down in a heartbeat (assuming I don't screw up the shot).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

wow i said 130-135 and a id say a 3 year old deer he will make 150's possibly next year good potential from what i can tell. you made a good decision..

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I've scored plenty of bucks and I would guess this one to do 126" gross, a few inches less net. To judge tines remember a bucks ears are usually 7" long and 16-17" tip to tip to judge spread. Their eyes are 4.5" around roughly to judge mass. It takes a lot for an 8 point to make 150", they are as rare as Booner bucks. The biggest 8 point ever shot in MN was just recently poached, it scored 190" gross and 185" net B&C!

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from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Truthfully I don't know, have no understanding of the scoring system.

If it makes you fell better you made the right call,that was a 138 for sure!

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from Nels36 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I bet the deer is around 135 to 140 inches

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from BigBuck2012 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

He's a nice buck, but I agree with everyone else he just won't make the 150 mark. I'm going to guess 130 or so. He should be a real nice one next year!

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from Walt Smith wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Oh for gods sake just shoot him, enjoy the venison and throw the rack in the corner of the garage with the rest of them.

+5 Good Comment? | | Report
from Walt Smith wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'm sure who ever is hunting on the adjoining properties where you were hunting will be able to let you know.

+4 Good Comment? | | Report
from bigjake wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

a solid 120 buck, maybe next season he'll be closer to your standards.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from matakis wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I would guess him to have a 16" spread possibly 8 inch g2's and 6 inch g3's.

I would score him around 125 to 135.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from udelhofe wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I score this buck at 125"

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from VABOWHUNTER wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree, probably a touch wider than 16" but low 130's would be my guess. Th blurred pic makes it hard to figure mass but he doesn't appear to have a whole lot of it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I shot about a 150" 8 point mulie, he isn't nearly tall enough, good call on waiting for 150 is that is your goal.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from stickbow13 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

i would have to say 140's to mid 140's any way you look at it it's a nice buck

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I have two 16" wide bucks on my wall, he's wider, 17 or 18". Though he won't go 150", it's tough to score them on the hoof. I applaud your restraint, as i probably would've shot him even with that goal in mind. No regrets though. It feels good to let nice bucks walk. Hope he makes it till next year. He's got good body size and is definetly mature.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jay wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree with the rest, he is not 150. Very respectable buck; would be hard to pass up.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I'd call him about 130" gross

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from beers123 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Tough call. I have past up a lot of bucks smaller than him waiting on 1 his size. The deer don't have a long enough life span to get super huge here. Not saying that they don't but most of the time they get shot early in life. I would not agree with 120-135. If I was guessing which I am I would say 135+ just my guess though. There are a lot smarter guys on this site than me though.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

17 in spread
22 in rt beam
22 in left beam
16 in mass rt
16 in mass left
18 in tine lenght left
18 in tine length rt
I have no calculator but I think it scores 129

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from neuman23 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Good call, I wouldn't put him much past the mid 130's. But the photo is really hard to tell for sure.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from njhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

this buck is not quite 140. My guess would be 138.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from BuckBoss wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Yep, I agree with most everyone... 130's. I just shot a ten that should score mid 140's and he is way bigger than the eight. Good decision to let him walk, just hope it pays off now! Good luck and happy hunting!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

well said Walt. There was a time when you never put a tape measure to a rack,... it was either "nice" or it was "piddly", either way it was meat in the icebox.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from 60256 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think it funny every time I hear "I would pass up on that buck". If that was on our property, he would be down so fast he didn't know what hit him! We just don't get bucks like that around here. And here you are "eh I can get better". It's sickening.

Nate

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from coho310 wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I think he just fell short of your 150 goal he looks 130-140,but I'd do anything for a deer like that!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dave Hurteau wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Looks like most of you have pretty much confirmed my guess. Thanks. The angle of the photo foreshortens his spread a bit; he was a little wider than it appears here. When I let down, I was thinking 135-ish.
I passed because we had a stated goal--and this was a rare opportunity. At home in upstate New York, where I'm pretty much a meat hunter, this buck goes down in a heartbeat (assuming I don't screw up the shot).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from fliphuntr14 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

wow i said 130-135 and a id say a 3 year old deer he will make 150's possibly next year good potential from what i can tell. you made a good decision..

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I agree that he probably isn't 150 class, but I'm very unfamiliar with the way scoring is done and terrible at guessing the numbers. Don't feel too bad about leaving him be. I'd probably pass on him until the late season. Plenty of time to fill a bunch of doe tags. I've been spoiled, and hunting here makes me wait for the really big older ones now. This guy doesn't look terribly old. No way he's more than 3 1/2, but I don't know, we have 2 1/2 year olds looking like him here in OH.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from muskiemaster wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

1.past the ears
2. tines longer than the ears
3. symmetrical looking
4. dominant looking
I'm just guessing but I would say he's close to that 150" mark you were hoping for (just a touch less). I think I would've taken him based on your conditions.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from PETESMEAT wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

142 IS THE NUMBER FOR YOU

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Dances with Deer wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Mid-130s to 140 range, nice looking deer

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Judd McCullum wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

Dave, you made the right call letting him walk. This same dilemma has had many a hunter in it's grips in my area, especially the out-o-state kind. Many err on the side of just wanting a buck and end up killing a two or three year old that would be an absolute giant if he kept his walking papers. You practiced good management in this instance. I hope you took home a couple does for your trouble. That'd earn you an +A with the locals around here.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

20 inches from ear tip to ear tip. he's well past that. the problem is that he has no mass. i'd say around 130-135. i would have taken him but i'm mainly a meat hunter and that is a nice rack.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from NYhunter wrote 4 years 23 weeks ago

I wouldn't be able to pass that buck! I would say around the mid 130's . Good job geting him in though. Just think of how big he will be next year!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jeffo52284 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

If it is only the third day i would hold out for the buck you came for. he is a strong 130 but not the 150 you were looking for. with five days left i think you made the right decision to pass

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kevin wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I've scored plenty of bucks and I would guess this one to do 126" gross, a few inches less net. To judge tines remember a bucks ears are usually 7" long and 16-17" tip to tip to judge spread. Their eyes are 4.5" around roughly to judge mass. It takes a lot for an 8 point to make 150", they are as rare as Booner bucks. The biggest 8 point ever shot in MN was just recently poached, it scored 190" gross and 185" net B&C!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Robert Ewing wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

Truthfully I don't know, have no understanding of the scoring system.

If it makes you fell better you made the right call,that was a 138 for sure!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Nels36 wrote 4 years 22 weeks ago

I bet the deer is around 135 to 140 inches

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from BigBuck2012 wrote 4 years 19 weeks ago

He's a nice buck, but I agree with everyone else he just won't make the 150 mark. I'm going to guess 130 or so. He should be a real nice one next year!

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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