Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

Net Score Vs. Gross Score 


Why doesn’t the Boone and Crockett scoring system count all those points?

A great way to get into an argument around the campfire is to tell a hunter their animal’s antlers or horns aren’t going to score as high as they think. One better, tell them that some of those points are going to be deducted from the score. You’d better sleep with one eye open in the wall tent for the rest of the trip. 

This article will help explain why the Boone and Crockett scoring system does not count every point. In many cases, some points will actually be deducted from the final, or net, score. Please don’t take what we’re about to explain the wrong way. There is nothing wrong with your trophy, whether it scores double- or triple-digits. Every animal is a trophy. 

“The gross score overly rewards oddities. Gross is a statistical outlier because the Boone and Crockett system is based on symmetry and mass.” 

Justin Spring, Boone and Crockett Club Director of Big Game Records 

Before diving into net versus gross score, let’s take a minute to understand what the Boone and Crockett scoring system looks for when it scores antlers and horns. (Skulls are exempt because they don’t deal in deductions.) In short, the Club is looking for mass and symmetry. That’s the way it’s been since 1949, and that’s the way it is today. 

Symmetry is measured by some basic scoring parameters, which are mass, beam and tine length, and inside spread. When measuring a typical animal’s antlers or horns, any difference in symmetry between the left or right side is considered a deduction. 

Why reward symmetry? “Those traits are indicators of an individual animal’s health that can be a reflection on the health of the entire population,” said Justin Spring, Boone and Crockett Club director of Big Game Records. 

When it comes to non-typical antlers, the general scoring principles are the same, except that abnormal points are added to the non-typical score. For instance, a mule deer might have identical drop tines, which are considered abnormal points. For the typical category, these would be deducted from the net score. For the non-typical category, these tines would be added to the net score. Then it’s up to the hunter to decide the category in which it is recorded. 

“C’mon, nets are for fish,” you say. “The animal grew it, so everything should count. Gross score rules!” The problem with that, said Spring, is that the gross score overly rewards oddities. “Deductions can  account for stressors the animal was exposed to in its environment,” he said.  For example, broken tines from fights means competition, which could mean overpopulation issues. Again, think mass and symmetry. “If you’re scoring a non-typical, you’re still looking at that base rack,” said Spring. “We’re still looking at the symmetry because even a non-typical will have symmetry.”

The Boone and Crockett Club does list the gross score on the official scoring sheet, and they do this to give people a better mental picture of the rack. For instance, the world’s record non-typical elk has a gross score of nearly 500 (499-3/8 points), but its final score is 478-5/8 points. Reading those two numbers side-by-side tells you there’s about 20-inches of extra antler on that rack. The closer gross score is to the net score reflects the amount of symmetry.  

No hunter wants to hear that their animal’s headgear might be less than meets the eye, and not everyone is happy with the net score concept. In the end, though, it’s how the Boone and Crockett Club is able to help measure their conservation efforts. 

“Other organizations have their own scoring systems, some of which are very close to Boone and Crockett’s,” said Spring. “At the same time, we appreciate the animal also being included in our records so we can complete our own mission of measuring conservation successes and failures over the long-term.”  

PJ DelHomme is a writer for Crazy Canyon Media in Missoula, Montana. He regularly contributes content to the Boone and Crockett Club as well as national and regional publications.

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-Theodore Roosevelt