7 replies [Last post]
Location: Colorado
Joined: 04/04/2004
Posts: 7
Mule Deer Field Judging

Anyone know a good website where various mule deer pictures are and their respective B&C scores?

I'm hunting Muleys in CO this fall and I'd like to improve my field judging over the next 6 months.


bitmasher's picture
Location: Colorado
Joined: 02/27/2002
Posts: 2974
Mule Deer Field Judging

Interesting question, I don't know of such photos. However, in general a mature mulie's ears are a good gauge of size. When fully spread the ears will have a width of 20-22 inches.

Take your time glassing a buck and if the antlers appear to go a few inches beyond the ears, you are looking a nice buck. Girth can sometimes be judged in relation to the ear size, but it really depends on the quality of your optics and the distance your at.

Location: Kerrville, Texas
Joined: 04/18/2004
Posts: 29
Fiel judging mulies

I wouldn't know the difference between a 160 or 180 mulie. However, I will add a little to what has already been said. Bottom line is I don't care what he scores. First I look at the body. Does he look like a mature animal? Signs of that to me are a "beer belly", a thick neck, and a swagger when he walks (if you get to see him walk). If he looks like a mature animal, then he will probably have an eartip spread of at least 22 inches. So if a buck like that has a spread 2+ inches wider than his ears, HEAVY rack and both front and back forks are DEEP, then he is going down. He should be 26" plus and score well. Don't know what he scores, but he is a trophy in my "book".

Location: California
Joined: 09/27/2004
Posts: 2
Mule Deer Field Judging

Like it has been mentioned.....horn spread versus ears. Other important factors include mass and more important are long tines and eveness of the left side versus the right to avoid deductions.

Good luck.

Location: Stockton, Ca
Joined: 10/20/2004
Posts: 4
Field judging Mule deer

I've always heard, and checked that a Mule deers ears are 20-22" wide when layed straight out, as previously mentioned. But on this buck pictured, the ears were 25 1/2" wide. I know this because it totally threw me off when I was estimating his spread. I thought he was about 24 - 25" based in the 22" eartip spread. Turns out he was 28" wide. If your wondering what a 173" Muley looks like, hear he is. I took this buck in California.

X3b buck pic #3.jpg
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Boots's picture
Joined: 06/25/2011
Posts: 38

I've always judged a big mule deer by using a 24" ear-to-ear length, so when his ears are laying down then you can get a good idea of what he is. Deep tines are a must if you want a big score, so make sure that he's not crabby (looks like crab hands if you didn't catch that) on the fronts or the backs. Look for the extras, not only because it will add more total inches, but it brings a uniqueness factor that "big bucks" are usually associated with (perception is reality). Mass is difficult to field judge, especially in the velvet, but you have to just make a judgment call based on reference points like how big are they compared to his ears. And the most overlooked of all field-judging is how tall is he? If he's a tall buck that equals more total inches and a bigger score. A really tall buck is the same as a really wide buck, we're just used to talking about width as the standard of scoring, but height matters. Your best help will be in judging bucks that run with "the big one" and then comparing him to the other bucks and you should get a sense of how big the buck really is, and does he really stand out. But most importantly of all, does he just look big? If you have to convince yourself that he's big, then he's not the one. You'll have some ground shrinkage if you're not honest with yourself about your scoring. Is he really 3 inches beyond his ears, or more like one inch beyond the ears? Don't convince yourself of the scoring, let it be what it really is and call it what it is, because when the tape goes on that bad boy the truth will be told. I've attached some pictures of some good examples of the techniques I was talking about so you can get an idea. 

hunter25's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!
Location: Colorado western slope
Joined: 11/13/2009
Posts: 3040
I have said before that

I have said before that although I always try to get a big buck I'm not really a trophy hunter so the fine points don't mean much to me. If it looks big to me then it's good enough. In general though the ears are a pretty good guide but there are exceptions. Ny dad killed a 27" 3 point one year that we thought was far bigger than he turned out to be. This buck was far smaller than the average deer in body and ear size and really threw off the general guidelines. His hind quarters were not much heavier than a normal big bucks fronts. He had a very heavy rack as well just no body size to back it up.

I have only scored one buck. It came in at 172 and this one is just under 22" wide but he has very deepforks front and back and was pretty tall as well. Again if it looks big to me that's all that matters no matter what species it is. And if time to hunt is short I will take whatever is offered to me no matter how big it is at all.

I just love to hunt.

Critter's picture
Grand Slam Challenge Winner!Moderator
Location: Western Colorado
Joined: 03/26/2009
Posts: 4413
What you want to look for in

What you want to look for in a trophy deer is deep forks and mass in the antlers.  The width really doesn't factor into the equation very much.  For some good pictures of large mule deer go to Monstermuleys.com , or Tinesup.com  Both have some great pictures of trophy mule deer on them. 

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