Today marks the start of the Boone and Crockett Club's 27th Annual Big Game Awards, held June 24 to 26 in Reno, Nevada. This free triennial public exhibition celebrates the role hunting plays in conservation and features some of the finest North American big game ever taken by hunters. The top five trophies from 36 categories of North American big game entered into the Boone and Crockett books over the past three years are invited to the exhibition; one hundred of them are expected to be on display this year. We're guessing most of you won't be able to reach Reno on short notice, so we've set up a slide show of all the animals included in the exhibition for which field photos could be found. We've matched these photos with tips for how to judge the animals in the field. For more information about the Big Game Awards exhibition, go to
Boone & Crockett recognizes four species of bear in North America; the Alaska brown bear, the grizzly bear, the black bear, and the polar bear. All are scored the same way, by measuring a dry skull’s greatest width and adding it to its greatest length. The minimum scores required to make the all-time B&C books are:
Alaska brown bear — 28 inches
Polar bear — 27 inches
Grizzly bear — 24 inches
Black bear — 21 inches At Left: Alaska Brown Bear
Killed: Uganik Lake, Alaska, 2006
Hunter: Robert J. Castle
Score: 29-9/16
Field Judging Tips:
1. Body size, attitude, and locomotion can be involved in judging a trophy boar bear.
2. Trophy grizzlies and brown bears will have small, or almost indiscernible ears.
3. A big black bear will have a big belly because it gets to live in the best areas with the most feed, which is why it’s big. **At Left: Alaska Brown Bear ** _
Killed:_ Olga Lake, Alaska 2008 _
Hunter:_ Peter J. Bausone _
Score:_ 28-9/16
**Field Judging Tips (Continued)
**4. Unlike black, grizzly, and Alaska brown bears, trophy polar bears will appear long and lanky with long necks, rather than hulking and massive.
5. Trophy black bears have massive front shoulders.
6. The front legs of a trophy black bear will be the same width from the forearm down through the wrist and into the foot. **Polar Bear
**Killed: Chukchi Sea, Alaska, 2007
Hunter: James D. Unrein
Score: 27-5/16
**Field Judging Tips (Continued)
**7. A trophy black bear’s legs may look short, although taller, lankier bears can sometimes be the best scorers.
8. Like a black bear, trophy grizzlies and brown bears will appear to have short, squatty legs.
9. The shape of trophy black bear’s head will include a deeper, wider snout than a sow’s or a smaller boar’s._ **Grizzly Bear
**Killed: Unalakleet River, Alaska, 2009
Hunter: Rodney W. Debias
Score: 27-3/16
**Field Judging Tips (Continued):
**11. Trophy black bears, grizzlies, and Alaska brown bears will walk with a kind of swaggering waddle, swinging their hind ends, telling everyone else to get out of their way. **Grizzly Bear **
Killed: Nulato Hills, Alaska, 2009
Hunter: Eugene F. Segrest
Score: 26-2/16
**Field Judging Tips (Continued):
**12. The shape of trophy black bear’s head will include a deeper, wider snout than a sow’s or a smaller boar’s.
13. A trophy black bear’s ears will appear wide apart and small, and seem to stick out of the sides of its head, rather than from the top, like a dog’s.
14. A big black-bear boar will have a bulging biting muscle on the top of its head. **Black Bear **
Killed: Riding Mt., Manitoba, 2008
Hunter: Robert J. Evans
Score: 22-13/16
Typical American Elk (Wapiti)
The minimum score to make the all-time B&C books is 375. Field Judging Tips:
1. First, count the points–make sure a great 6×6 doesn’t turn into a tremendous 5×5 when you get it on the ground.
2. Beam length should be long enough to look as if the bull can tip its head back and scratch its butt.
3. Widest inside spread is counted, but cannot be wider than the longer beam is long. **Typical American Elk **
Killed: Graham Co., Arizona, 2007
Hunter: Duane Chapman
Score: 404-1/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
4. The brow tines will reach well out over the elk’s muzzle.
5. The other points will have good length, with the fourth of “dagger” point, the G-4, often having the greatest length of all. Mass is not a critical judgment, but if the rack gives a good “feel” of weight, all the better. **Typical American Elk **
Killed: Gila Co., Arizona, 2008
Hunter: Dan J. Agnew
Score: 399-4/8
Non-Typical American Elk
Scoring is similar to the typical American elk, but “abonormal” points are counted. Minimum score to make the all-time books is 385. Field Judging Tip:
A “non-typical” (or “abnormal”) point does not mean a point mismatched with its opposite number on the other beam, but a point that grows outside the pattern of a typical elk. The symmetry of the typical points still matters. (The world’s record “Spider Bull,” taken in Utah in 2008 by hunter Denny Austad and perhaps the most phenomenal head of antlered game ever taken, has an actually rather symmetrical antler frame, with only some twenty inches of deductions from its normal points.) **Non-Typical American Elk **
Killed: Piute Co., Utah, 2008
Hunter: Denny Austad
Score: 478-5/8
**Non-Typical American Elk **
Killed: Clinton Co., Pennsylvania, 2006
Hunter: John A. Shirk
Score: 441-6/8
**Non-Typical American Elk **
Killed: Columbia Co., Washington, 2008
Hunter: Dan J. Agnew
Score: 436-4/8
**Tule and Roosevelt’s Elk
**Boone & Crockett recognizes two subspecies of American elk, the Tule and Roosevelt’s. These subscpecies tend to carry smaller antlers than their cousins. The minimum all-time score for a Tule elk is 285; 290 for a Roosevelt’s elk. **Tule Elk **
Killed: San Luis Obispo Co., California, 2007
Hunter: Andrew J. Wood
Score: 322-5/8
Field Judging Tips:
1. There is no non-typical category for Roosevelt’s or Tule elk.
2. Roosevelt’s and Tule elk have a tendency to grow “crown” points in abnormal locations at the tops of their antlers; the lengths of these points are not deducted but added to the total score. **Tule Elk **
Killed: Colusa Co., California, 2008
Hunter: Thomas B. Gordon
Score: 322-3/8
**Tule Elk **
Killed: Colusa Co., California, 2007
Hunter: Richard L. Garrison
Score: 312-5/8
**Tule Elk **
Killed: Solano Co., California, 2006
Hunter: Steven S. Bruggeman
Score: 311
**Roosevelt’s Elk **
Killed: Powell River, British Columbia, 2009
Hunter: Allen M. Shearer
Score: 362-5/8
Boone & Crockett recognizes three categories of North American moose, the Alaska-Yukon moose (minimum all-time score: 224), the Canada moose (195), and the Shiras moose (155). **Alaska-Yukon Moose **
Killed: Selawik Hills, Alaska, 2008
Hunter: Craig S. Spencer
Score: 247-5/8
**Field Judging Tips:****
**1. The best angle from which to judge a moose’s antlers is from the front, with the bull holding its head down and the rack lying nearly in the vertical plane, as when a moose is feeding.
2. Most top-scoring antlers will lie flatter, rather than cupped up. **Alaska-Yukon Moose **
Killed: Sheep Mt., Yukon Territory, 2009
Hunter: Rob Springer
Score: 242
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
3. Width is not as important as well-developed palmation.
4. An important feature is a broad brow palm; on high-scoring Alaska-Yukon and Canada moose, these palms will have three or more points.
5. Counting total points is difficult in the field, so look for overall antler mass. **Canada Moose **
Killed: Dease Lake, British Columbia, 2008
Hunter: Ross H. Mann
Score: 221-2/8
**Canada Moose **
Killed: Tatshenshini River, British Columbia, 2009
Hunter: Fred E. Dodge
Score: 220-7/8
**Canada Moose **
Killed: Tatshenshini River, British Columbia, 2008
Hunter: Fred E. Dodge
Score: 213-3/8
**Canada Moose **
Killed: Telegraph Creek, British Columbia, 2007
Hunter: Richard M. Bock
Score: 198-5/8
**Shiras Moose **
Killed: Bonner Co., Idaho, 2006
Hunter: Del J. Thompson
Score: 181-6/8
**Shiras Moose **
Killed: Larimer Co., Colorado, 2007
Hunter: Rylan Rudebusch
Score: 180-2/8
**Shiras Moose **
Killed: Lincoln Co., Montana, 2006
Hunter: Win D. Bock
Score: 177-4/8
Typical Whitetail and Coues’ Deer
Almost all typical records-book whitetail will have at least four points (main beam and three points standing on the beam) and an eye guard on each antler, so a “10-point” (Eastern count); a records-book Coues’ deer could be only an 8-point. Minimum all-time score for whitetails is 170; 110 for Coues’. **Typical Whitetail Deer **
Killed: Greene Co., Illinois, 2006
Hunter: Charles Q. Rives
Score: 198-1/8
Field Judging Tips:
1. Look first for height and width, then points and mass.
2. Use the physical features of the deer as measuring gauges–
3. The average whitetail buck’s ears, held alert, measure 16 inches, tip to tip; the ear itself measures 6, base to tip; the eye is 4 inches in circumference; from the center of the eye to the tip of the nose is 8 inches. Typical Whitetail Deer
Killed: Pushmataha Co., Oklahoma, 2007
Hunter: Jason L. Boyett
Score :192-5/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
4. The antler spread should be well outside the tips of the ears.
5. The tip of the main beam should appear to extend to the end of the buck’s nose, when viewed from the side.
7. Be aware that a buck’s antler that rises up before turning forward may be longer than it appears.
8. A Coues’ buck may actually produce antlers with mass equal to a mature whitetail’s **Typical Coues’ Whitetail **
Killed: Sonora, Mexico, 2006
Hunter: Frank Lawrence
Score: 126
Non-Typical Whitetail and Coues’ Deer
Judge for the same antler patterns as with typical whitetail and Coues’ deer. Minimum all-time scores are 195 for whitetails, and 120 for Coues’ deer. **Non-Typical Whitetail Deer **
Killed: Jackson Co., Iowa, 2008
Hunter: Kyle M. Simmons
Score: 275-5/8
Field Judging Tip:
Remember, abnormal points on a typical deer are a deduction; to be categorized as a non-typical whitetail, for example, there need to be at least 25 inches of abnormal points on an otherwise normal 170-point buck. **Non-Typical Whitetail Deer ** _
Killed_: Cross Lake, Alberta, 2007
Hunter: Helgie H. Eymundson
Score: 274
As with bears, cougars are scored by measuring a dry skull at its widest point and adding that measurement to the skull’s longest length. Minimum all-time score is 15. Cougar
Killed: Rio Blanco Co., Colorado, 2008
Hunter: Gregory W. Wisener
Score: 15-11/16
Field Judging Tips:
1. A very large track is the first indication of a trophy cougar.
2. Head size will appear small in comparison to body. Cougar
Killed: Drayton Valley, Alberta, 2006
Hunter: Tim R. Gazankas
Score: 15-10/16
**Field Judging Tips (Continued):
**3. A trophy cougar will have a large, pendulous belly.
4. Trophy cougars have legs that appear short for their bodies. Cougar
Killed: Owyhee Co., Idaho, 2007
Hunter: Justin D. DeCroo
Score: 15-10/16
Killed: Trout Creek, Alberta, 2008
Hunter: Brice D. Folden
Score: 15-8/16
Typical Mule and Blacktail Deer
Boone & Crockett recognizes three categories of mule deer; mule deer, Columbia blacktail deer, and Sitka blacktail deer. Most record-book typical mule deer are 5x5s (Western count), four points per side plus eye guards. Some near-record-book blacktails may lack eye guards, and could be only 3x3s above the eye guards, if any. Minimum all-time scores are 190 for mule deer, 130 for Columbia blacktails, and 108 for Sitka blacktails. **Typical Mule Deer **
Killed: Garfield Co., Utah, 2008
Hunter: Del R. Brady
Score: 209
Typical Mule Deer
Killed: Sonora, Mexico, 2005
Hunter: Jason J. Gisi
Score: 205-2/8
Typical Mule Deer
Killed: Old Wives Lake, Saskatchewan, 2008
Hunter: Warren M. Stadnyk
Score: 204-3/8
Boone & Crockett recognizes five different caribou categories. All are judge by the same criteria; only the sizes vary. Minimum all-time scores are 400 for barren ground caribou, 390 for mountain caribou, 375 for Quebec-Labrador caribou, 295 for woodland caribou, and 360 for Central Canada barren ground caribou. Barren Ground Caribou
Killed: Seward Pen., Alaska, 2008
Hunter: Jack L. Wilson
Score: 419-4/8
Field Judging Tips:
1. The shoulder height of the caribou, which is between 48 and 54 inches, can be used as a measuring gauge
2. From the side, straighter main beams will look longer than curved ones; but curved ones will generally have more length. Mountain Caribou
Killed: Mackenzie Mts., Northwest Territories, 2007
Hunter: R. Bruce Moon
Score: 422-7/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
3. As with elk, inside spread counts, but cannot exceed the length of the longer beam; and remember that wider racks will look shorter than narrow ones, from the side.
4. Brow palm, or “shovel,” should be a multi-pointed broad palm extending well over the bride of the muzzle; and double’s better. Mountain Caribou
Killed: Prospector Mt., Yukon Territory, 2008
Hunter: Jack E. Risner
Score: 412-4/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
5. The bez (pronounced “bay”) tine is above the shovels and ought to be long, many pointed, and match up with the one on the other beam.
6. The rear spikes, or “kicker” points, that may grow off the back of a bull’s antlers, add to the score.
7. A trophy caribou will have well-palmated tops with lots of points. Central Canada Barren Ground Caribou
Killed: Thonokied Lake, Northwest Territories, 2006
Hunter: Nyla K. Swast
Score: 396-4/8
Woodland Caribou
Killed: Owl Pond, Newfoundland, 2009
Hunter: Roger L. Leach
Score: 325-3/8
Woodland Caribou
Killed: Andrew Pond, Newfoundland, 2006
Hunter: Tom Gallenbach
Score: 324-1/8
Quebec-Labrador Caribou
Killed: Riviere Du Gue, Quebec, 2006
Hunter: Bret J. Wood
Score: 423-6/8
Quebec-Labrador Caribou
Killed: Lac Ribero, Quebec, 2006
Hunter: Donald M. Vickers
Score: 422-3/8
Quebec-Labrador Caribou
Killed: Lac Roz, Quebec, 2006
Hunter: Aaron Kelly
Score: 411-7/8
Quebec-Labrador Caribou
Killed: Caniapiscau River, Quebec, 2005
Hunter: Frederick B. Davis
Score: 407-3/8
Pronghorn Antelope
Minimum all-time score is 82. Field Judging Tips
1. Horns should appear longer than the distance from the base of a pronghorn’s ear to the tip of its nose, a distance averaging about 13 inches.
2. Horns 2½ to 3 times the length of the ears, measured from the bases to the tips, could be records-book class.
3. Curved or hooked horns will measure better than straight ones.
4. Prongs should look very large, be above the level of the ear tips, and appear to extend out about 4 inches from the main horn.
5. For judging bases, assume that twice the width of the pronghorn’s eye will give a base circumference of 6 to 7 inches. Pronghorn
Killed: Harding Co., New Mexico, 2006
Hunter: Larry J. Landes
Score: 91-4/8
While Boone & Crockett recognizes four categories of wild sheep in North America; bighorn (minumum all-time score — 180), desert (168), Dall’s (170), and Stone’s(170), they only had field photos for two of them (bighorn and Stone’s). Field Judging Tips
1. A horn should be full curl or more.
2. The bottom of the horn curve should be at or below the line of the back of the lower jaw Bighorn Sheep
Killed: Fergus Co., Montana, 2008
Hunter: Toni L. SanNon
Score: 204-2/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued)
3. Check the circumferences of the horns at the second and third quarters from the side; weight here is vital for records-book rams.
4. Broomed full-curl horns will score higher than unbroomed ones of equal length. Bighorn Sheep
Killed: Blaine Co., Montana, 2008
Hunter: Debby L. Perry
Score: 202-7/8
Stone’s Sheep
Killed: Stikine River, British Columbia, 2008
Hunter: Don South
Score: 180-4/8
Stone’s Sheep
Killed: Stikine River, British Columbia, 2007
Hunter: R. Terrell McCombs
Score: 177-2/8
Stone’s Sheep
Killed: Richards Creek, British Columbia, 2007
Hunter: Michael D. Schauer
Score: 173-1/8
Musk Ox
The horns of a records-book musk ox will drop down so that 55 percent of their lengths should be below a line drawn between the center of the animal’s eyeballs; and they should curve back up to above the eyeball. Minimum all-time score is 105. Field Judging Tips:
1. Musk oxen, like Cape buffaloes, have horn “bosses” that need to be tightly grown together. Musk Ox
Killed: Gjoa Haven, Nunavut, 1995
Hunter: James D. Mierzwiak
Score: 122-6/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued)
2. The hairline between the bosses should run down the center and not be more on one side or another, like a side-part in a man’s hair. Musk Ox
Killed: Kugluktuk River, Nunavut, 2008
Hunter: M. Blake Patton
Score: 122-6/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued)
3. On a trophy bull, the horn tips will have an inch or more of black on them. Musk Ox
Killed: Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, 2008
Hunter: James M. Mazur
Score: 120-2/8
Minimum all-time score is 115. Field Judging Tips:
1. View both horns to make sure neither is damaged nor broken. Bison
Killed: Teton Co., Wyoming, 2007
Hunter: Edward D. Riekens, Jr.
Score: 133-2/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
2. A young bull’s horns grow out of the head and turn almost straight up; on a mature, trophy bull, they develop a gentle curve, with the points turning toward each other. Bison
Killed: Custer Co., South Dakota, 2007
Hunter: Art D. Tong
Score: 129-2/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
3. A mature bull’s horns will taper strongly out from the bases in a half-moon curve. Bison
Killed: Teton Co., Wyoming, 2007
Hunter: Gerald C. Newmeyer
Score: 126
Rocky Mountain Goat
Look for an old loner goat living on mineralized slopes, the minerals contributing to horn growth. Minimum all-time score is 50. Field Judging Tips:
1. First, look for a high humped shoulder, shaggy coat, and chunkier overall profile to differentiate a billy from a nanny. Rocky Mountain Goat
Killed: Kalum Lake, British Columbia, 2008
Hunter: A.C. Smid
Score: 54
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
2. Visualize the horn as if it were straightened out; if the length appears to be from the nostrils to the bottom of the eye, the horn is 8 but less than 9 inches; if from the nostrils to the ear hole, it’s a trophy class goat. Rocky Mountain Goat
Killed: Telegraph Creek, British Columbia, 2008
Hunter: Robert L. Schermer
Score: 53-6/8
Field Judging Tips (Continued):
3. Another gauge is to look for is a horn 2½ times the visible length of the ear. Rocky Mountain Goat
Killed: Revillagigedo Island, Alaska, 2008
Hunter: Terry E. Meyers
Score: 53-4/8

Over the past three years, Boone & Crockett has received four times the number of trophy entries it received thirty years ago. “This means wild, free-ranging trophy-class animals are more plentiful today than ever before,” says Eldon “Buck” Buckner, chairman of the Club’s Records of North American Big Game Committee. And that, he adds, “is a tribute to those who manage our wildlife and the sportsmen who participate in that management.”

Click a link below to browse this selection by species:
Whitetail & Coues’ Deer
Mule & Blacktail Deer
Musk Ox
Rocky Mountain Goat

All tips on judging trophy big game in the field were drawn from A Boone and Crockett Club Field Guide to Measuring and Judging Big Game (