Many people are rightly confused when it comes to counting antler points. Do I count them all? Do I count only one side? Do I count the browtines? How big does it have to be to count?

Its simple: Count all the points, subtract 2 if it has browtines and then divide by 2. Huh?

In the West it is tradition to count only the number of points on one side and not count the brow tines no matter what. If the number of points are different then we say “Three by four” (3×4) – again not counting browtines. Some might round up and call that a “Four-point.” This system, called “Western Count” works fine for mule deer because they don’t have very prominent browtines or they are missing completely.

Whitetails are normally counted “Eastern Count” which is to count all tines on the rack because most whitetails are in the East. When it comes to western whitetails, western count is still used, but it is a little confusing because they always have browtines. An 8-point whitetail Eastern Count is a “3-point” Western Count.

Now, what counts as a point? Boone & Crockett uses 1” and I personally think that is reasonable. In Texas they count anything you can “hang a ring on.”

So to summarize: Count only one side ignoring the browtines on both species in the West. Count them all in the East. If it has different points you can note that.

I have a whole chapter on “Antlers” in my book “Deer of the Southwest” available at There are also many magazine articles there free as PDF files and several deal with antlers.