How to score and field judge elk - Part 2

What to look for and how to do it

Jay Scott

This is part two in the how to score and field judge elk series. If you missed part one, you can check it out here.

Last time I discussed air judging, estimate actual measurements method, magic number/estimate shortest points method and a short four part how to score an elk video series. This time around we are going to dive deeper into field juding and scoring bulls.

Quick Scoring Example:

Here is an example with the actual measurements of the bull that was harvested by Colburn and Scott Outfitters hunter Tim Allen in 2009 in Arizona Unit 10 during the archery hunt.

How to score and field judge elk - Part 2 - 0

How to score and field judge elk - Part 2 - 1

Estimate Actual Measurements

Left side: 19, 19, 14, 20, 17, 57, 30 = 176"Right side: 21, 18, 15, 21, 16, 58, 30 = 179"Spread: 40"Total: 176 + 179 + 40 = 395" gross

Estimate Shortest Points

19,18, 14, 20, 16 = 87 x 2 = 174"174 + 200 = 374"Mass: +0 (30 per side)Main beam: +14 (57 per side)Spread: +0 (40 inches)Total: 374 + 0 + 14 + 0 = 388" gross

Here Are the Actual Numbers

Left side - (G1-G5) 20, 19 4/8, 16, 22 2/8, 13 6/8, (H1-H4) 8 4/8, 7 6/8, 7 4/8, 6 1/8, Main beam: 58 2/8 = 179 5/8Right side - (G1-G5) 21, 19, 17 6/8, 23 6/8, 14, (H1-H4)8 5/8, 7 4/8, 7 1/8, 6, Main beam: 59 = 183 6/8Inside spread: 37 inchesTotal gross score: 400 3/8" (6 5/8" of deductions)Net score: 393 6/8"

Here Is the Breakdown of the Numbers and Percentage to Total Gross Score

Points - (Left) 91 4/8 + (Right) 95 4/8 = 187" or 46.7%Main Beam - (Left) 58 2/8 + (Right) 59= 117 2/8" or 29.2%Mass - (Left) 29 7/8 + (Right) 29 2/8 = 59 1/8" or 14.75%Inside spread = 37" or 9.25%

Seven Part Elk Field Judging and Scoring Video Series:

Part 1 - estimating Shortest Points Method

Part 2 - Using the Shortest Points Method

Part 3 - Using the Estimating Shortest Points Method and Actual Measurements

Part 4 - Using the Estimating Shortest Points Method

Part 5 - Using the Estimating Shortest Points Method

(bull was also taken by KUIU's Jason Hairston)

Part 6 - Learn to Notice a Bull's Weakness

Part 7 - Using the Actual Measurements and Estimating Shortest Points Method

Field Judging Tips

How to score and field judge elk - Part 2 - 2

Bull elk depth of body from back to belly measurement. Photo credit: Lauren Moxley


  • Point length is the single most important ingredient for a bull to score high. Next is main beam length. It is rare to have a high scoring bull without long points and beams.

  • On a typical 7x7, the point measurement is going to go up dramatically. For instance, a typical 7x7 will usually have sixth points that measure from four to 20” per side, which can add an extra eight to 40” to the bull’s total gross score. Note: On a typical 7x7, you do not receive any extra mass measurements.

  • Look for any weaknesses or broken/missing points as they can affect the score dramatically.

  • Use anatomical references to judge measurements.

  • Count the number of points on each side because if something looks odd it usually is.

  • The main beam length from burr to fourth point is usually around 30”. Make sure that you compare that to the length of the main beam from the fourth point to tip of the beam. If it looks like it is about half as long (15”), then the total length is closer to 45”. If it looks equally as long, then it might be pushing 60”.

  • Main beams are rarely 60” or more. Inside spread measurements are rarely over 45” and mass is rarely over 32” per side.

  • Try to err on the short side when estimating measurements.

  • Look for good spacing between the points. If the points look close together, the beams are probably not as long as you think.

  • If a beam or point looks straight, then it will be shorter than you think. Look for lots of belly or curve in points and the main beam. Curve means greater length.

Field Judging Reference Charts:

How to score and field judge elk - Part 2 - 3

From the top of the hump on the back to the hoof is 54-58". Photo credit: Exclusive Pursuit Outfitters


Anatomical elk references

Antler burr to tip of nose

15” to 16”

Front of eye to tip of nose

12” to 13”

Inside of eye to inside of eye

7” to 8”

Top of back to bottom of belly

30”

Top of back to hoof

54-58"

Tip of ear to tip of ear

21” to 22”

Ear length (base to tip)

7.5”

Antler burr to tip of nose

15” to 16”

Front of eye to tip of nose

12” to 13”

Inside of eye to inside of eye

7” to 8”

Top of back to bottom of belly

30”

Top of back to hoof

54-58"

Tip of ear to tip of ear

21” to 22”

Ear length (base to tip)

7.5”

Normal percentages of gross score

Tine Length - 45%

Main beam - 28%

Mass - 16%

Spread - 11%

Tine Length - 45%

Main beam - 28%

Mass - 16%

Spread - 11%

Average measurements

300-310" bull

Spread

35"

Mainbeam

45" x 2

Mass

25" x 2

Pointlength

13" x 5 x 2

Addedup

35+90+50+130

Total

305"

320-330" bull

Spread

37"

Mainbeam

47" x 2

Mass

27" x 2

Pointlength

14" x 5 x 2

Addedup

37+94+54+140

Total

325"

340-350" bull

Spread

38"

Mainbeam

50" x 2

Mass

29" x 2

Pointlength

15" x 5 x 2

Addedup

38+100+58+150

Total

346"

360-370" bull

Spread

39"

Mainbeam

52" x 2

Mass

30" x 2

Pointlength

16" x 5 x 2

Addedup

39+104+60+160

Total

363"

380-390" bull

Spread

40"

Mainbeam

53" x 2

Mass

30" x 2

Pointlength

18" x 5 x 2

Addedup

40+106+60+180

Total

386"

400"+ bull

Spread

40"

Mainbeam

53" x 2

Mass

31" x 2

Pointlength

20" x 5 x 2

Addedup

40+106+62+200

Total

408"

Spread

Mainbeam

Mass

Pointlength

Addedup

Total

300-310" bull

35"

45" x 2

25" x 2

13" x 5 x 2

35+90+50+130

305"

320-330" bull

37"

47" x 2

27" x 2

14" x 5 x 2

37+94+54+140

325"

340-350" bull

38"

50" x 2

29" x 2

15" x 5 x 2

38+100+58+150

346"

360-370" bull

39"

52" x 2

30" x 2

16" x 5 x 2

39+104+60+160

363"

380-390" bull

40"

53" x 2

30" x 2

18" x 5 x 2

40+106+60+180

386"

400"+ bull

40"

53" x 2

31" x 2

20" x 5 x 2

40+106+62+200

408"

It Is an Art

How to score and field judge elk - Part 2 - 4

Photo credit: Exclusive Pursuits Outfitters


Field judging elk is an art, while measuring dead elk is a science! One of the best ways to improve your field judging skills is to practice field judging bulls before actually measuring them. I hope these scoring methods and tips will come in handy when trying to field judge your trophy bull, but remember: it is more important to measure your hunt success by the memories and quality experience gained than by the size of the antlers you bring home.

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