Friday, July 18, 2014
The most recent round of white-tailed deer antler measuring conducted by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources revealed 222 new records, including one Boone and Crockett qualifier.
Each spring DNR Wildlife Section personnel make a concerted effort to measure deer racks throughout the state, with a major session during the Palmetto Sportsmen’s Classic in Columbia. Of the 569 sets of antlers measured this spring, 222 met the minimum score for entry on the state records list including 213 sets of typical and nine non-typical racks.
According to Charles Ruth, Deer/Wild Turkey Program coordinator for DNR, although not as strong as the past two years, the number of successful entries into the records list this year is the third highest number of entries in the last decade.
Although all of the records were not taken during the 2013 season, 182 were taken during the 2012 or 2013 season. Racks must score a minimum of 125 points typical or 145 points non-typical to qualify for the South Carolina state records list. Records are based on the Boone and Crockett Club scoring system, which measures the mass and symmetry of deer antlers in two categories: typical and non-typical.
The top typical buck was a 1627/8 inch buck taken by Gary Walls in Orangeburg County in December of 2009. Walls’ buck qualifies for the Boone and Crockett Club’s Three Year Awards Period List and is 18 among South Carolina’s all-time typical deer. The second highest scoring typical was a 1593/8 inch Laurens County buck taken by Ricky Brooks last October. Netting 1674/8 points, the top scoring non-typical buck was taken by Tony Blackwell in Oconee County last December.
South Carolina’s deer herd is in good condition, and after many years of rapid population growth the herd stabilized in the mid-1990s followed by a decreasing trend since about 2002, according to Ruth. Statewide population estimates put the deer herd at about 750,000 with an estimated harvest of about 225,000 each of the last few years. Although the deer harvest in South Carolina has been down the last few years, indications from the antler records program are that deer quality remains good.