Scoring a Buck Typical Versus Non-Typical

Scoring a buck typical versus non-typical 

Scoring deer antlers can a be a bit confusing, especially since most hunters score only a single set of antlers each year. If one is not well-versed in antler scoring terminology, then it requires the hunter to get reacquainted with the lingo (and what it’s referring to) each year. I’ll admit, it’s not an easy process/concept to wrap your mind around because the words “typical” and “normal” (and “non-typical” and “abnormal”) mean very different things when scoring a buck, but people commonly use them interchangeably in daily conversation when talking about other subjects.  

I would now like to address the following questions I received via email:

“What determines whether a buck is scored typical or non-typical? Is there a maximum amount of deductions allowed for typicals?”

There is no set rule that says a white-tailed buck must be scored typical or non-typical. The choice really is up to the hunter and which classification makes the most sense. As I go through the following discussion, it will become obvious how a particular buck should be scored.

First, when scoring deer antlers, all normal and abnormal points are measured. The scores of both typical and non-typical sets of antlers are based off the symmetry (after deductions) of the main frame. Yes, even non-typical bucks get deductions for not having a symmetrical main 8-point, 10-point, 12-point, etc frame with matched points of the same length.

But — since the measurements of all normal and abnormal points are taken, it’s easy to calculate both the typical and non-typical scores. Abnormal points add into the gross score of a buck scored non-typical and are subtracted from the gross score of a buck scored typical. If a set of antlers has many abnormal points, the set is most accurately classified as non-typical and would be best scored as non-typical (but it is not a requirement).

Odd, freakish, and unmatched points do not add any value to the typical antler score as per the definition of a normal point. When scoring a typical set of deer antlers, the length of abnormal points is measured, but subtracted from the gross score of a buck. The rules state you can not add abnormal points to the score of a typical frame. If the antlers are nearly typical, abnormal points hurt the net score. So there is no maximum on the amount of inches that can be deducted because the mathematics of the issue becomes self limiting. The more abnormal points, the lower the net score becomes under the typical classification and the more the scorer leans towards scoring the antlers non-typical. 

On the flip side, if a set of antlers is scored non-typical, then the total length of abnormal points is added into the gross score for the rack. The more abnormal points a set of antlers has, the more sense it makes to score them as non-typical. The fewer abnormal points a set of antlers has, the more sense it makes to score them as typical.

Again, the important thing to keep in mind: Both typical and non-typical sets of antlers are scored based on the main frame. The only difference is that abnormal points deduct from a typical rack’s final score, but they are additive for non-typical. If the white-tailed buck has a lot of abnormal points, why score it as typical and then subtract away abnormal points?

Case in Point 

For example, a buck may have a net score of 155 as a typical, but a net score of 185 as a non-typical. That’s 30-inches difference in antler material! That’s because I assumed it had 30-inches of abnormal points — which is deducted from the gross score when scored “typical,” but not deducted from the gross score when scored “non-typical.” Most hunters use a buck’s gross score in conversation because it gives the deer credit for all antler growth.

If, on the flip side, you only had 7-inches of non-typical antler on your buck (a single drop tine, a split tine, or an extra point), typical makes much more sense. The more abnormal points a buck has, the better the likelihood it should be scored non-typical. Of course, I’ve seen some white-tailed bucks that get stuck in the middle — not enough abnormal points to score high as a non-typical, but too much to score well as a typical.

12 thoughts on “Scoring a Buck Typical Versus Non-Typical

  1. Ralph Barnhill says:

    Thanks for your reply. that’s close to what i thought. I was just having a hard time in that gray area that would define “a lot” in reference to number of abnormal points. I’ve got a 9pter that scored 129 typical, with the 9th or abnormal point being 10 inches long. so you can see my reason for the question. Thanks again!

  2. We were just wondering how you get a non-tyipical score? Are there any deductions on a non-typical rack?

  3. That is a big buck! I would give anything to shoot a whitetail that big!

  4. Brett Bowhunter says:

    It seems you have stated two conflicting methods for arrive at the gross score.

    In this article you said that a buck may have scored 125-net as a typical and 185-net as a non-typical, assuming there are 30 inches abnormal points. This means that this deer’s typical gross score is 155 and that these abnormal points do not contribute in any way to the typical gross score, but rather they only serve as deductions when arriving at the typical net score. When you add the 30 abnormal points to the base 155 frame you arrive at the non-typical net score off 185, according to what you have written. Ok…

    But on your “scoring terminology” page, you responded to one persons comment and you stated,
    “To score a set of deer antlers using the Boone and Crockett method, many measurements must be taken. This series of measurements consists of 8 different variables that are named “A” through “H.” All of the measurements are added together to get the gross score.”

    My understanding has always been that all of a deer’s points, both normal and abnormal, are measured to arrive at a buck’s gross score (regardless if it’s a typical or non-typical). This seems to be the commonly accepted definition of gross score and is consistent with your post where you said columns A-H on the scoring sheet are added together to arrive at gross score.

    But in the above article, it seems that rather than using the commonly accepted definition of “gross score”, you have implied that the term “gross score” is essentially same thing as the “subtotal” line on the B&C scoring sheet (which doesn’t factor in the abnormal points).

    Can you please clarify what the definition is of “gross score” since it is not an official term used on the B&C scoring sheets?

    Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hunting!

  5. Brett-

    You are correct! There is a bit of confusion above because yes, as hunters we consider a buck’s gross score as the sum of all points, normal and abnormal, plus mass, beam and inside spread measurements. Looking at it this way, a buck’s antlers have only one gross score. On a Boone and Crockett Scoring form, this score would be the sum of the “Subtotal” plus “E”.

    I made a simple math error above, so thanks for catching that. The second to last paragraph is now editted and correct.

  6. In January, I was walking in the woods and saw 2 antlers laying on the ground, which had obviously been shed by a buck. I found both antlers, which is rare. It was a pretty big 8 point with about a 20 to 22 inch spread, and the points measure from 7 to 11 inches. I can’t even fit my hand around the base of one antler! I’m wondering if this buck is typical or non-typical?

  7. I shot a 4×1 buck. At the game check station the guy said it was a non typical and that the one point looks just like a spatula. So is it a non typical or what?

  8. Typical bucks have relatively symmetrical racks. Since the buck you shot has 1 point on one side and 4 on the other, it is definitely not typical and would be classified as a non-typical.

  9. Richard Schmiiit says:

    I would like to email this article to a friend, how can I do it? Thanks

  10. I’m a kid but love to hunt and I would really like to kill a deer that size and that heavy! Wow!

  11. Ralph Barnhill says:

    How can there be a “net” score for a non-typical scored rack?

  12. Ralph, a non-typical set of antlers, like a typical set of antlers, is still based off of a symmetrical frame. In short, the difference between the G1, G2, etc. and the H1, H2, etc. on each antler is still measured. That is why both types have gross and net scores. The difference is that all the abnormal points are subtracted from a typical bucks score and all the abnormal points are added to a non-typical bucks gross and net score. A symmetrical frame is important to both types of bucks.

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