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Just for kids: How do you count antler points?

If you've ever read an article in one of the national outdoors magazines, you may have been confused by a writer's reference to a 10-point whitetail buck.

Out West where mule deer roam, we count a deer's antler points only on one side. For example, in Montana we refer to a deer with four points on each side of its antlers as a four point. Sometimes, hunters refer to a young two-point deer as a forked horn or forky. Bucks with antlers less than 3 inches are called spikes, and the really small bucks are called button bucks or nubbin bucks.

If there are a different number of antlers on each side, we would call the deer a four by three, sometimes written like this: 4x3.

Hunters do differ, though, on whether they count a mule deer's eye guards (points right above the eyes) as an antler point. Some hunters count them, some don't. So someone might say a three-by-three with eye guards while another hunter would call the same deer a four-point.

Because western hunters count mule deer points only on one side, we also count whitetail points the same way.

Back East there are no mule deer. Hunters there count all the points on a deer's antlers and add them up. So a New York hunter would call a four-by-three a seven-point buck, a four-point an eight-pointer and so on.

We westerners would like to think that eastern hunters count antler points the way they do to make the deer sound bigger, whereas we westerners know our deer are bigger but tend to play things down out of modesty.

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