Will your trophy Pennsylvania buck make the record books?

Long overdue, I watched as the Game Commission’s Big Game Scoring Coordinator, Bob D’Angelo, took antler measurements on the shoulder mount of an eight-point buck I harvested during bow season back in 2004.

Upon finalizing calculations, Bob looked up with a smile and said, “Congratulations Tyler, your deer just made the Pennsylvania record books! What took you so long to bring it in for measurement?”

Truth be told, I wasn’t exactly sure how or where to get my deer officially measured. I knew, of course, that Pennsylvania’s Big Game Records existed, but like many others in the state, I was under the impression I had to wait for the Game Commission to announce a special scoring session at an outdoors show or other venue for scoring to take place.

However, after visiting the commission’s Harrisburg headquarters and meeting with D’Angelo, I discovered setting up a scoring appointment is much easier than originally anticipated.

According to D’Angelo, there are 40 official Boone and Crocket or Pope and Young Big Game Scorers throughout the state. Scores are accepted for the state book from any appropriately credentialed scorer from either club.

“To become officially certified, scorers must participate in an intense two-week training program, where they are instructed how to measure all 22 North American big game species,” said D’Angelo. “I believe there’s an official scorer located within 75 miles of any hunter in the state.”

The state record book uses the Boone and Crockett Club’s measuring system for consistent scoring, but has adopted its own minimum qualifying score requirements for Pennsylvania trophies.

Minimum Pennsylvania scores are as follows: Typical Deer: Firearm-140, Archery-115; Non-typical Deer: Firearm-160, Archery-135; Black Bear: Firearm-19, Archery-17; Typical Elk: Firearm-300, Archery-200; Non-Typical Elk: Firearm-325, Archery-275.

The measuring program was first established in 1965 to “showcase the outstanding big game hunting opportunities available in Pennsylvania,” according to the opening page of the annual record book, which the Game Commission sells for $5,, plus tax and shipping.

Seven of the top ten typical whitetails taken with a firearm were shot prior to 1965. The state record typical Fritz Janowsky buck (189) was harvested in Bradford County in 1943, and the record non-typical Edward Dodge buck (238 and 6/8) was taken in Erie County in 1942.

That doesn’t mean the golden age of deer hunting is a time of the past though. It may just mean the name of the game is changing. Of the top 50 typical archery bucks in the state, two were taken in the 1980s, 10 were taken in the 1990s, and all the rest were harvested after the turn of the new millennium.

“I have really seen a lot of growth since we put antler restrictions in place – especially with the archery kills,” D’Angelo said. “Many of those two-and-a-half year-old bucks that probably would’ve otherwise gotten shot before reaching maturity are now living long enough to see that minimum score of 115 before being harvested. I know it’s working because I see it firsthand. A lot more bucks are qualifying for books.”

One thing is for certain though – trophies will never make the books if they’re never scored. For assistance with locating an official scorer near you, or to schedule an appointment at the Game Commission’s state headquarters, contact Bob D’Angelo at rdangelo@pa.gov. It’s the only way to truly know whether your trophy measures up with the best!

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