Deer Records Available On-line

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South Carolina's biggest deer on record are now listed on the Internet for nature enthusiasts and sportsmen and women to read. The site on the S.C. Department of Natural Resources Home Page includes all the record qualifying deer racks from the past two seasons and top scoring white-tailed deer racks measured by the state records program since it began in the early 1970s.

All the deer racks that qualified for the state records during 2001-02, as well as the top 100 all-time records, can be found on the S.C. Department of Natural Resource's Web site under the headings Divisions/Wildlife And Freshwater Fisheries Division/Game Management or at this link.

Each year during March, DNR biologists score deer antlers during an announced series of sessions throughout the state, with a major scoring effort during the March Palmetto Sportsmen's Classic in Columbia. A total of 3,998 sets of white-tailed deer antlers, including 3,854 typical racks and 144 nontypical, are currently ranked on South Carolina's all-time antler records list. Minimum scores for state record listing are 125 points for typical antlers and 145 points for nontypical antlers. Scoring is based on the Boone and Crockett system.

Hunters wanting to have a deer rack scored must provide documentation, such as the date and county of the kill, and sign a "fair chase" statement when they bring in a set of antlers for scoring. Broken and repaired racks or antlers separated from the skull plate cannot be officially measured for the state records list. If the lower jawbone of the animal was extracted during taxidermy or otherwise saved, it should be brought to the scoring session so biologists can determine the deer's age. An accurate weight measurement at the time of the kill is also helpful.

The objectives of the state records list are to recognize outstanding animals and to identify areas that produce quality deer, according to Charles Ruth, DNR statewide deer project leader. This information allows biologists to take a closer look at habitat and deer herd condition and to offer land management suggestions to landowners.

The white-tailed deer is the most popular, sought after, economically important, and controversial game animal in South Carolina, according to Ruth. The deer harvest rate over the entire state in 2001 was 14.9 deer per square mile of estimated deer habitat, one of the highest statewide rates ever documented anywhere. For the first time, two South Carolina counties yielded estimated harvest rates at or above 30 deer per square mile. Bamberg with 32.1 deer per square mile and Allendale with 30.0 deer had the highest harvest rates followed by Chester with 27.4 deer, Union with 27.0 deer and Newberry with 26.2 deer.

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is the premier big game species in the United States and annually, millions of sportsmen take to the woods in pursuit of the deer with a flag-like tail. Curiously, white-tailed deer hold some fascination for most people regardless of whether or not they actually hunt deer. This fascination may stem from the importance of deer in the development of our country or maybe it is due to the animals' shy nature and overall beauty. In either case, humans are always impressed to catch a glimpse of a white-tailed deer. The statewide deer population is about one million. Huntable populations exist in all 46 counties in South Carolina and the annual statewide deer harvest is approximately 300,000.

The state's antler scoring system is the same as that utilized by both the Boone & Crockett and Pope & Young Clubs, which are recognized as the national organizations that record exceptional North American big game taken with firearms and archery equipment, respectfully. The scoring system is based primarily on antler size and symmetry and includes measurements of the main beams, greatest inside spread of the beams, circumference measurements at certain designated locations, and the number and length of the points. To be counted as a point, each projection must be at least one inch long and it must be longer than it is wide at its base. Deductions are made for points that arise abnormally from the main beams or from other points and for symmetrical differences between corresponding measurements on the right and left antlers. For non-typical antlers, abnormal points are added to the score rather than being deducted as in the typical category.

A set of antlers is classified as typical or non-typical based on its general conformation, the number of abnormal points, and a determination as to whether it will rank higher in the typical or non-typical category. Current minimum scores for the South Carolina Antler Records List are 125 typical points and 145 non-typical points. All antlers must undergo a minimum 60-day drying period before they can be officially measured. If a set of antlers meets the minimum score the record is added to the list and a certificate is issued recognizing the outstanding white-tailed deer taken in South Carolina.

The South Carolina Antler Records List is continually undergoing revisions and editing. However, due to the size and nature of the list mistakes are inevitable. If you become aware of mistakes associated with the records list please contact Antler Records, PO Box 167 Columbia, SC 29202 in writing. Proposed corrections will be considered after reviewing the original score sheet that is on file.