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Thread: judging a 50" span

  1. #1
    Member Ripface's Avatar
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    Default judging a 50" span

    Just curious how some of you judge a moose's 50-inch antler span before you shoot at it.
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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Judging moose antler spread

    Quote Originally Posted by Ripface
    Just curious how some of you judge a moose's 50-inch antler span before you shoot at it.
    First of all, I shoot moose; I don't shoot AT them! Shooting AT a moose implies that you're sorta hoping you might hit it. :-))

    The best advice I can give you is practice. Try to guess the spread on every moose rack you see, then measure it. The other way is to purchase the ADFG video, "Is this moose legal?", which comes directly from ADFG with another video on the same tape, "Field care of Alaska game". HERE'S THE LINK to order the video, it's $15. This video will expose you to over 20 moose in which you have to decide whether or not to shoot; it's an excellent tool. Watch it over and over and over again, and you'll be a better judge of antler spread.

    Finally, some general benchmarks to consider (but none are foolproof, and you could shoot an illegal moose with these standards; that's why I call them benchmarks):

    1. Most moose are about 10" between antler bases. Measure this with your scope reticle in the field, and extrapolate out from there.

    2. Most moose are 20" from eartip to eartip, when their ears are in the normal alert position (see attached photo). Measure this with your scope reticle and extrapolate from there. I think this is more reliable than the ten-inch rule mentioned above, and the method I use most often besides, "he looks good to me", which can only be based on lots of field experience with moose.

    3. If his palm is longer than the distance between the tip of his nose to the top of his head, he is a larger bull. Your best view of this is from the side, but you can't judge spread from the side, so this is just a technique to provide additional support to the conclusions you are developing about the animal. Some legal bulls just have short palms; these are not generally considered trophies in the record book sense though.

    4. Most mature moose don't have long dewlaps. This is because the dewlap on younger bulls eventually becomes frostbitten during the winter and drops off over time. This is not always true though, and some outrageously big ones have ropy dewlaps, while some younger ones have shorter bells. It mostly depends on how severe the winters have been in the last seven-eight years or so (the average life span of a mature bull). Again, just a general benchmark.

    5. If he has antler marks; torn up hide, shredded hair, etc. on his hindquarters, chances are there is a bigger bull nearby who just kicked his butt. Again, not always, but sometimes. Victorious bulls often get in a few jabs with the tines as a weaker opponent flees the area.

    6. If in doubt, go with the brow-tine count. NEVER shoot a bull you're not absolutely sure of! Even if you're wrong, notch your tag and completely salvage the animal, then turn it in as soon as practicable to ADFG or the Troopers.

    The bull in the photo is about 34-36 inches.

    Hope it helps-

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    Default video

    The state has a great video about this very subject. Most ADF&G offices should have a copy to loan you, or of course you can purchase one. Its been awhile since I watched the tape, but from memory its very good. I'll assume you asking this question because a lot of area's require a 50" minimum or a certain number of brow points, which is generally 3 or 4...depending on the unit. So, if you're not sure of the width you can always count brow points.

    Some methods that I use include the lenght of the main beam, massiveness of ther paddles, main beam ark...or lack of it. And of course overall years of experince looking at Moose, and ground checking them w/ a tape measure.
    As a general rule of thumb a Moose in the 50" range, w/ average size paddles, will have a main beam that appears to be growing "straight" out from his head. As the paddles grow larger, 60" range w/ "average" paddles, there is a destinct "arc" in the main beam..in other words the main beam will appear to have a bow in it, arcing downward.
    A slam dunk is the "goal post" look. If you're looking at a Moose straight on, or directly from the rear and can see points, you're actually looking at the [top] points, which means the antlers are growing up instead of laying flat, 99.9% of the time a Moose w/ the "U" shaped antlers, or "goal post" look will be less than 50".
    There seems to be a wide variety of main beam lenght, I've seen them anywhere from 7" to over 13". Obvioulsy a Moose w/ a long main beam can have antlers that curve UP instead of OUT (flat) and still achieve 50". However as a general rule the shorter main beam should be an indication of a younger bull.
    If you have time, distance, different angle looks, & proper optic's to make some comparisions you can use the width of the eyes and/or ears for proportion references. Most bulls that I have measured in the 7-10 year old class will measure around 8" from the inside-to-inside of each eye socket. Center of eye, to center of eye will be around 9 1/2" +/-, and the outside edge of the eye-to eye can vary greatly, but averages about 11"...cause you're really looking at the oval shape duct.
    Ears width is a little tougher to judge because of all the varibles of different angles, plus some Moose just have different lenght ears than other Moose. As a general rule when the ears are laying is a relaxed position they be be around 22" wide, however I've seen them range from 19-26". The 22" measurments is the most common pose you'll see the ears, which is a semi-alert (focused) position.

    I've heard some folks claim they can judge width by how far back the antlers come when the head is swung sideways. In other words if the antlers[ top of paddle] come to the mid-point of the shoulder versus 1/4 of the shoulder tells you some indication of width. I don't subscribe to this method because there are too many varibles because of paddle lenght.

    Go look at some Moose every chance to get, I think expericne is the best. And every chance you get to ground check a bull, make some measurments and write them down on your notepad for future reference. I've been a "Moose student" (studing antler formations...amoung other things about Moose) for many years and love learning new stuff about them. Moose are cool critters!

    good hunting..>Byron Lamb

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    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default Best advice.....

    forget trying to guesstimate 50". Go for brow tines. Unless the moose is OBVIOUSLY over 50" I won't shoot him unless I can see the necessary number of tines.

    I have relatives who have been screwed over (for lack of a better description) by Palmer troopers after having taken what they thought was easily a 50" moose (ended up at 47"). They did everything right, dressed the animal, packed it out from 40+ miles behind Eureka that night, the initial shooter drove it to Palmer (called AST en route), met with the trooper who then filed misdemeanor charges against all three of them even though there was only one moose taken (flew a helicopter out to the camp the next day to get the other two in the hunting party). It took them about 6 months and a couple of court appearances to finally get the charges dropped. I don't need the headache!

    It says in the front of the regs booklet that if you turn yourself in for a violation like this, the punishment will be considerably less severe than if you are cought in the act. Being charged with a criminal charge when there could have simply been a $300 violation citation issued doesn't seem less severe to me!

    I think they (ADF&G) get rid of the 50" option. It leaves too much room for error.
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    Member akpredator's Avatar
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    Default count the tines

    [QUOTE]
    Quote Originally Posted by AKmud
    forget trying to guesstimate 50". Go for brow tines. Unless the moose is OBVIOUSLY over 50" I won't shoot him unless I can see the necessary number of tines.
    Just like AKmud says --If you havent done alot or any moose hunting before DO NOT GUESS ON THE RACK SIZE. Count the brow tines so your 100% positive its leagal, its not worth the consiqunce(sp). It takes alot of exsperience in the field to be able to judge a legal (50"+) moose.
    LOVE MY LITTLE SKULL CLEANERS

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    Default

    akpredator,

    Nice avator. When did you shoot that bear? Got a bigger picture?

  7. #7

    Default 66" 3 Brows

    I learned to judge bulls. If I would have relied on the brow count, I would not have killed my 66" or 61" bulls. Both only had 3 brows per side. I used 10" as a basis from outside of eye to outside of eye.

  8. #8
    Moderator AKmud's Avatar
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    Default 66"

    Quote Originally Posted by AKmud
    forget trying to guesstimate 50". Go for brow tines. Unless the moose is OBVIOUSLY over 50" I won't shoot him unless I can see the necessary number of tines.
    66" falls into that obvious catagory for me.....
    AKmud
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    The porcupine is a peacful animal yet God still thought it necessary to give him quills....

  9. #9

    Default Good Point

    AkMud, I guess you got me there. I still used the overlay method of the 10" to the outside of the eyes. I know I passed on several in the 55"-60" range. The genetics in the area I hunted just didn't have a lot of brow tines. I whole heartedly agree that if in doubt don't shoot, but it doesn't hurt to have a backup method.

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    Default

    I agree with AkMud. Unless the spread is so wide it is obvious I would not shoot it unless it had the required number of brow tines.

  11. #11
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default I have the answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan
    First of all, I shoot moose; I don't shoot AT them! Shooting AT a moose implies that you're sorta hoping you might hit it. :-))
    It's obvious........hire strahan. He not only can determine the size, he never misses.:-))
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    Default

    When counting browtines make sure you can identify what is and what isn't a browtine. Get the ADF&G video just to be safe. I figure if the bulls turns his head left or right and the antlers will reach over the shoulder hump, he's over 50".

  13. #13
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    moving this one back to the top, as the topic has come up again

  14. #14

    Default just my thoughts

    Go to any and all taxidermists that will let you come in and look at their mounts, granted this isn't the field, but it helped me get a feel for the size needed, I stuck with the twenty inches with the ears and figured I need 15 inches of palm/tines. Opening day two years ago I saw a chumpy---like the bull pictured above, then later we saw two bulls that were close, so I went for a closer look, somehow I got to within 20yds of them, one was obviously to small as his paddles were nice, but they butterflyed in---so that is something to remember, if they curve in there is no way they are going to make 50. The second bull started running to my right and i grunted at him, he stopped on a dime right in front of me, lets just say at 20 yards he sure seemed big, my gut instinct told me he was 50 and I shot him---talk about overkill, 20 yards with a .300 win mag!! He ended up being over 50, 53" was his width and he had 4 brow tines on the right side.

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    Member jeff p's Avatar
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    Thumbs up lol

    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    It's obvious........hire strahan. He not only can determine the size, he never misses.:-))
    LMAO I can always count on Mt for a laugh....sorry Mike

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