Caribou have unique and complex antlers, so field judging caribou can be very tricky. They are the most difficult of North America’s big game animals to score.
Boone and Crockett recognizes five individual antler features that figure into the scoring of caribou. No other antlered species shows greater variety. There is no such thing as a non-typical caribou. Here are some things to look for when field judging caribou:
- Main beam: arises from the skull and grows outward and backward, and then usually forward to a tip.
- Brow palm: sometimes called a “shovel,” it is often found on only one antler that projects in a perpendicular fashion forward over the face and might show any stage of development from a single spike, to a many-pointed broad palm.
- Bez point: growing forward from the main beam just above the brow palm, usually with two or more branches and often showing some palmation.
- Rear point: usually develops as an unbranched spike projecting backward from about the middle of the main beam.
- Tops: a series of distinct, separate points that develop at the top of the antler’s main beam, with the beam often showing distinct palmation at this location.
When field judging caribou, the bottom of the rack is extremely important to the overall score. What’s down below separates an average bull from a great bull.”
If you want to keep it simple… When field judging caribou, you’re typically looking for double shovels, double bez, long and wide main beams, good mass, double backscratchers, symmetry, and more than two points at the top. Palmated points on top are best.
*Antler configuration can vary greatly between the subspecies of caribou. While woodland caribou bulls of eastern Canada typically have smaller racks, the Quebec-Labrador bulls can grow significantly larger and wider. Central barren ground bulls are perhaps the most diverse in configuration and can grow to be very high and wide. Mountain caribou are typically the most massive, with trophy-class specimens boasting the largest circumference measurements of all six subspecies.
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