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A Trophy or Not?

Just what is it that makes a trophy a trophy? Just like beauty, a trophy is in the eye of the beholder. Or is it? Don't tell that to any serious hunter, who will accept only that exceptional animal. We're talking about the hunter who subscribes to almost every outdoor magazine there is and reads all the record books.

Different Types Of Trophies

WHITETAIL DEER: The average buck is approximately 15 inches thick through its chest, and almost the same distance between the ear tips when the ears are cocked normally. When viewing a deer from the front, if the antlers extend several inches beyond the ear tips on both sides, and multiple tips are visible, you are looking at a good speciman. If some of these points are a good deal longer than the ears, you are looking at a very good speciman.

BIGHORN SHEEP: The horns on a trophy bighorn sheep should just about make a full curl, with each horn almost thick across in cross section near the "broomed" tips as they are at the base. Once you are able to view the ram from both the front and side, you can tell if he is a trophy or not.

PRONGHORN: A typical buck pronghorn can be very difficult to evaluate before it runs away. When viewed head-on with the head in the normal position, the vertical distance between the muzzle and eyes should be 15 inches or greater. Also, large-jutting prongs can contribute to making the speciman a trophy.

ELK: When you view an elk from the side with his head up and muzzle forward, the antlers of a trophy bull elk should extend rearward from 50% to 66% of the animals back. Each antler should have at least 6 points. If you find one with 7 points per side, you're looking at true trophy quality.

CARIBOU: The caribous shovels that are over his face are usually an indicator of overall antler mass. If he has 2 palmate shovels, earch the size of a large man's arm & hand extended, odds are good you will be looking at a potential trophy quality kill.

MOOSE: To be considered a super Alaskan-Yukon moose, the area of each antler should be at least equal to the size of the animals face profile. You almost need to view the moose from the front and side when its head is lowered to be able to tell more about it.

A Final Note

The above guidelines are very good and are some of the simplest rules of thumb for deciding if you have a trophy animal in site. But really, the best way to become an expert at assessing what is and what isn't a trophy, you need to compare as many specimen as possible. This can be a difficult and time-comsuming task, but you really must have the experience just as in any other profession.

By the way, does Iowa really have the best whitetail bucks in the US? (grin)