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Head Measuring

The measuring team will be attending the following shows in 2019:

  • West of England Game Fair – 16, 17 March
  • Northern Shooting Show – 11, 12 May
  • Scottish Game Fair – 5, 6 & 7 July
  • The Game Fair – 26, 27 & 28 July
  • Highlands Fieldsports Fair – 2 & 3 August
  • The Midland Game Fair – 14, 15 September

If you are unable to attend any of the shows and wish to have a head measured then please contact the Deer team on 01244 573000 ; they will be able to put you in contact with one of our local measurers in your area.

Getting a head start

Although British stalkers have little time for trophy hunting, it is a valuable management tool to record particularly good heads and BASC will be offering a head measuring service to members at some game fairs.

Here DOMINIC GRIFFITH explains how it’s done:

A head locks away many personal memories. Whether it is strong, weak or bizarre, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and stalkers will have very different ideas as to what constitutes perfection. Nevertheless, the average amount of antler growth in deer is one of the few reliable indicators of both annual variation, and overall trend in quality.

Records, particularly when cross-referenced to age, can demonstrate good or poor management, and are an invaluable management tool. It is not possible therefore to talk about qualitative management, without at least some reference to antlers and their size.

Although there are those who disapprove of the very concept of measuring heads, a significant sample of the premium heads shot each year in the UK are currently submitted for measurement, and the enormous amount of resultant data simply cannot be ignored. Indeed, were it not for this system of recording, there would be absolutely none of the data on quality in roe over the past 40 years that I was able to make available in my book Deer Management: Quality in Southern England.

It is, for example, a salutary fact that more than 20% of the top 100 ever recorded roe came from the first four years of this decade and this demonstrates quite clearly that far from being in decline, the number and quality of premium heads in England has actually increased.

Above left – A good average roe buck, standard cut.
Above right – A gold medal buck – thick beams, strong coronets, well pearled and even

For many years the only way of getting a head officially measured and recorded was by submission to one of the International Trophy Exhibitions, where each of thousands of heads was adjudged by a panel of experts from the International Trophy Commission of the CIC. Meanwhile in the UK, occasional lists of interesting and outstanding heads were published by, for example, JG Millais and Frank Wallace. Edgar Barclay started the annual Shooting Times review and passed this tradition to Richard Prior around 1959. He, in turn, passed it to me from 1995 until 2004.

In 1997 however, as interest in the grand European exhibitions was beginning to wane, the CIC decided to form national trophy commissions and so official measurement under CIC formulae can now be offered in the UK by qualified nominated measurers. I have been actively involved in head measurement for 20 years and indeed administered and co-ordinated the UK commission, collating and analysing the data and doing the Shooting Times review, until 2004. I am currently not operating within the UK CIC commission.

BASC has, up to now, played a limited role in head measurement, occasionally hosting the measurement service on its stand at major shows. But now BASC is going to offer members a full measuring service as part of its ongoing commitment to stalkers in the centenary year. I am very pleased to have been asked to play a small part in this initiative and full details will be available in due course.

How to measure a head

So how do you know if you have a potential medal class head? Some heads, sika and muntjac, may be provisionally measured fresh, clean boiled or fully mounted. In the case of the latter, assurances are sought that the taxidermist has used the original skull plate. Others (red, roe and fallow) require the skull to be weighed and can only therefore be measured clean boiled and dry.

A high standard of head preparation is desirable, and indeed a requirement if accurate measurements are to be taken. Many roe shot in April and early May retain residual velvet, and whilst some stalkers prefer to leave their heads in their ‘original’ state, all velvet should be removed before an accurate measurement is made.

The measurement of all the deer species involves physical measurements being taken of various aspects of each head. These physical measurements may then be scaled up or down using a multiplier according to what is considered to be their relative importance to an outstanding head of its type.

For example, we would all accept that it is fairly common for a roe buck head to exhibit length, so just 10% of the total score is attributed to length. What is clearly outstanding for a roe is to exhibit weight and volume, so these measurements are loaded to the extent that they account for about 75% of the total score. Evenness, span and tine length is considered important in muntjac and sika, whilst length, girth, weight and the number of points are important to red. Palmation is critical to the fallow, the length and width of which alone account for up to 50% of the overall score. In Chinese water deer, only canine teeth length and circumference are taken into account.

Although provisional measurements are routinely offered when the skull has been prepared and dried, official measurement under CIC rules may only take place after three months or 90 days. However measurements are made on trust and in good faith.

Measuring a roe

The span should be measured at its widest point,
which may be at the tip of the antlers or lower down.

Just in case you are considering submitting a head for measurement, here are the guideline measurements for the roe:

The most important facet of a roe head is its weight in grammes, which accounts for about 35% of the entire score. Because many heads are cut to individual preferences, home mis-measurements are often made. In effect we are seeking the net weight of the head as if standard cut, which is from the highest point of the dome of the skull, through the eye sockets and mid-way through the nasal bone.

The volume of the antlers (measured by dipping in water) accounts for a further 45% of the total score, and of the remaining 20% about half is in the average length of antler (ideally between 20 and 30 cms) and the final half is the beauty points, awarded for such qualities as pearling, symmetry and length of tines.

In general, to qualify;

  • A bronze medal will need a dry net weight of at least 365 grammes (455 full-skull) and a volume of at least 150 ccs.
  • A silver will require a dry net weight of at least 420 grammes (510 full-skull) and a volume of at least 165 ccs.
  • A gold requires a weight of 480 grammes (570 full-skull) and a volume of 200 ccs.

However there is considerable variation, due mainly to the age of the buck and also to the quality of beauty points. Heads of 450 grammes net have been known to make gold, and heads of over 400 grammes sometimes fail to make even bronze.

The length should be measured from the tip of the antler to the cornet.

Nevertheless a head of 26 cms length, of 365 grammes net weight and 150 ccs in volume, scoring full marks for span and average marks for each of the beauty points will score a total of 105.5 points, achieving bronze.

For advice on deer management, or for details of the BASC stalking schemes at Thetford, Dorset, Isle of Arran or in Northern Ireland, you can contact the Game and Deer team on 01244 573019


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