IL Whitetail 0045Jeremy is a wildlife biologist who was instrumental in the development of Buckscore a computer program that aids in the ageing and scoring of deer from photographs.  Speaking to a group at the Quality Deer Management annual meeting, he presented Buckscore’s basic theory and development.

Today’s deer hunting community has developed an obsession with aging and scoring deer on the hoof.  They often refer to deer by the total inches of antler.  But there is a difference between a 150-inch 3-year old and a 150-inch 6-year old deer.

It is more appropriate to describe a deer by both antler size and age.  We need to thin when looking at a buck, is this deer old enough for harvesting and is it big enough to meet management goals in the area.

The recent explosion of the use of trail cameras has created voluminous collections of deer photos.  Managers can gain information about buck to doe numbers, fawn production and deer density.  In terms of bucks, we can learn the number of points the deer has as well as information on deer inventory of the management area.

In the past we used the ear, eyes and nose as reference points in measuring tine length, spread and beam length.

When it comes to aging a deer we tend to use the neck, the chest, the stomach curve.

Jeremy and the staff of Mississippi State University took these elements and put them in a user friendly computer program.  Regardless of ones skill or education you will be able to collective the data.  This led to the development of Buckscore.

There are three issues encountered when they began to score deer with photographs.  The first was the distance between the camera and the deer.  It is impossible to work estimates that are pure guess work.  They have to use physical features that nature provides.   Physical features on the deer.  This could be the distance between the eyes, upper and lower nostril width, the ear width, and the eye ball width.

Deer cover a wide geographical range.  Deer in Illinois are different than those in south Florida.  Buckscore partnered with a number of state and private agencies and sampled the five physical and facial features from almost 2,000 deer.  The data went into the program.

Still it is not as if they have the deer in hand.  Because they have a two dimensional picture they lack depth perception and curvature.  The photos cannot account for that.

They created a mathematical formula that corrects for depth perception and curvature.  That gives the measurement as if you have the deer in hand running a tape along the beam.

The last thing they had to account for is the angle of the deer to the camera.  It means they had to correct much more for the angle.  They developed a program for angles.  They program uses a straight on view, an angle or 45-degree view, and a side or 90-degree view.  If you can paint a picture of a deer in any of these three angles you can get a score of that deer.

The most consistent and most accurate physical feature to use in antler measurement seems to be ear width.  So that is where they recommend beginning.  Then the program takes you through a number of physical and geographical considerations with a final result that is very accurate measurement of the deer’s score.

In aging a deer the program considers 9 physical features.  Once you enter the nine features and you hit “go” everything is automatic and there age estimation is very accurate.  It bases he estimation on percentages and high probability factors.

The deer photo goes through a series of steps automatically presented as each step is completed.

There is a learning curve in the use of this program.  Flinn recommends running 5 or 6 photos through it to polish your skills in using Buckscore.

This is a simplified description of the program.  For more information on Buckscore refer to




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  2. Wildlife biologists take age and antler measurements from harvested deer because the physical collection of data is relatively easy. Until recently, harvested deer were the only source of such data, so it provided no information on the remaining deer.

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