Vantage Point: How Important is a Buck's Gross Score?

This massive Illinois buck, taken by Mel Johnson, scores 204 4/8 and has held the number one spot for typical bowkills for 46 years. Does it validate the scoring system?

I have lots of pet peeves when it comes to the outdoor television industry and one that drives me crazy is the use of the term "gross Booner."

For the uninformed, a gross Booner is a relatively new term loosely used to describe a big game animal with a Boone and Crockett score that exceeds the minimum before deductions. It's coined by those who like to fool themselves into thinking the animal is a Boone and Crockett specimen when it is not. The same philosophy applies to an animal that qualifies for the Pope and Young record book before deductions. I suppose that could be called a gross Poper.

Truth is, there really is no such thing as a gross score, at least not in a final sense of the word. The score in either the Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young system is not final until deductions for asymmetry are tabulated. The gross score is simply a preliminary subtotal.


To qualify as a "Booner" a typical whitetail buck must have antlers that score at least 170 after deductions, known as the "net" score. Anything less is not a Booner. Not a gross Booner, a semi-Booner or any other kind of a Booner.


If you know anything about measuring antlers you know that a buck with a gross score of 175, for example, could score as low as 140 or less after deductions. Such a buck is not in the same universe as a legitimate Boone and Crockett buck.

Now, I've heard all the arguments. Nets are for fish; a buck should get credit for every inch of antler it grows; deductions are for CPAs; and on and on. Outfitters are notorious for quoting gross scores because the higher number sounds better. Everyone loves the bigger numbers and there's nothing wrong with that as long as everyone understands that gross and net are two very different things.

Fact is, B&C and P&Y are two long established scoring systems. Both include categories for non-typical animals and you could make some arguments against the non-typical scoring rules. I never understood the deductions for asymmetry in non-typical bucks, but these systems have been in use so long it's not practical to make wholesale changes.

Using the term gross Booner is really a slap across the furry muzzle of all the bucks, bulls and boars that actually were Boone and Crockett specimens. I liken it to calling someone a Navy SEAL when they didn't quite make it through SEAL training. It disrespects those who did attain such high standing.


I understand the arguments against deductions. Why shouldn't a buck get credit for all the bone he grows? It all comes down to the symmetry that is "typical" of the species in question. Whitetails are supposed to have a main beam with upright tines. If those beams are long, heavy, widespread and equal in length, and the opposing tines are long and equal, the buck scores better than one with an abnormal antler configuration. That's logical for a "typical" buck, isn't it?

Think of it this way. Back in 1965, Illinois bowhunter Mel Johnson knelt down in a beanfield and arrowed a typical buck that scored 204 4/8. In the 46 deer hunting seasons since, no one has arrowed a buck with the same spectacular combination of length, spread, mass and symmetry as the Johnson buck. Millions of bowhunters have dreamt of taking a better buck. A couple bucks have come close. None have succeeded. Yet.

In my mind, that fact alone validates the scoring system.


What do you think?

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Early Season Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg begins the scouting process in Kentucky on his first whitetail hunt of the season.

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Season Opener: Kentucky Whitetail Bowhunt

Christian Berg arrives at Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky to kick off the beginning of his hunting season.

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

2018 Bowhunter TV Episode 6: Great Start!

Guest hunter Christian Berg visits Whitetail Heaven Outfitters in Kentucky and gets his deer-hunting season off to a great start with an amazing velvet buck.

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 1

Canyon Ranch Roundup Part 1

Bowhunter TV's Derek Mleynek and Equipment Editor Tony J. Peterson head to Texas for a late-season mixed bag hunt that promises plenty of action.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

This past fall my twin daughters started kindergarten, which meant that I stopped paying for Bows

9 Top Budget Bows for 2018

Tony J. Peterson - February 20, 2018

This past fall my twin daughters started kindergarten, which meant that I stopped paying for

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely. Scouting Tools

Advancements in Rangefinder Technology Through the Years

Chuck Adams

Advances in rangefinding devices have helped bowhunters immensely.

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves. Other Game

Tips for Bowhunting Predators

Joe Bell

Chasing predators is great for calming big-game nerves.

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when choosing heavy vs. light arrows for bowhunting. How-To

How to Choose the Best Hunting Arrow - Heavy vs. Light

Curt Wells

Curt Wells and Randy Ulmer [video] explain the importance of momentum and penetration when...

See More Trending Articles

More Whitetail

To know where you need to be in the rut, re-visit your trail-cam recon from months gone by. Whitetail

Trail Camera Clues That Lead To Rut Hunting Success

Tony J. Peterson - November 04, 2019

To know where you need to be in the rut, re-visit your trail-cam recon from months gone by.

You'll never know everything about deer, but remembering the simple things can reboot your focus. Whitetail

Learning & Relearning the Whitetail Basics

Nathan L. Andersohn

You'll never know everything about deer, but remembering the simple things can reboot your...

Successful whitetail hunting in the fall starts with lots of legwork in the spring. Whitetail

Spring Scouting Strategies for Successful Whitetail Hunting

Greg Miller

Successful whitetail hunting in the fall starts with lots of legwork in the spring.

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges. How-To

How to Hunt Whitetails in Open Country

Joe Blake

Bowhunting whitetails on the open plains can provide several unique challenges.

See More Whitetail

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Bowhunter subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now