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The Tennessee Deer Registry

What Is it?
            The Tennessee Deer Registry was initiated with three goals in mind: to provide the TWRA with a meaningful and understandable record of the number of quality whitetail deer taken annually in Tennessee, to provide important data concerning Tennessee’s expanding deer herd, and to recognize successful hunters who bag trophy deer.

            “The program is based on the scoring criteria developed by the Boone and Crockett Club,” Marcum said. “However, the state program recognizes deer that are obviously trophy quality by most standards, but which fall slightly short of the world class requirement of Boone and Crockett.”

            The minimum requirements for the Tennessee Deer Registry were set as: archery—115 typical and 140 non-typical; gun 140 typical and 165 non-typical.

            “I was still Chief of Wildlife at that time,” said Ron Fox, who is now Assistant Director for the TWRA. “There were a lot of people who wanted to know how their deer would score. The registry was a quick way that folks could establish a comparison to other records and at the same time establish a listing of high quality bucks here in Tennessee.”

            To get the registry started, TWRA had to train several of its people across the state in the techniques of properly measuring the antlers. Each of the state’s four regions now has people who can measure for the Tennessee Registry, and some have gone through the more extensive training for measuring all big game animals offered by the Boone and Crockett Club.

            When the deer registry began, some of the bigger deer across the state had already been measured and entered into the national record books, but the agency knew there had to be many more large racks hanging on den walls. In order to get those deer brought out and measured, deer rallies were conducted with seminars presented by such well-known deer hunters as Dr. Jim Byford.

            In view of the fact that many hunters had no real idea about the size of antlers required to make the minimum measurements, some of those first rallies had a lot of small-racked mounts brought in. Since then, hunters have gotten a better picture of what will make the registry. Some hunters have even learned how to rough-score the rack prior to bringing it in for an official measurement.


            “One benefit of the registry, from a biological standpoint, is that it backs up what the agency has been saying all along,” TWRA Deer Program Coordinator Daryl Ratajczak said. “The biggest deer come from the best habitats, as evidenced by the number of entries coming from Stewart and Montgomery counties. Big deer also come from areas that have a large number of older-ages class deer waking around, such as Oak Ridge WMA and other restricted areas.”

               Although there are bound to be more deer still hanging on walls that would qualify for the Tennessee Deer Registry, and possibly the national record book, deer measuring rallies have not been scheduled in recent years.

            More recently, TWRA has participated in many of the existing outdoor shows across the state. If a hunter has a deer they think will qualify and don’t have a show scheduled nearby, they can simply call the nearest TWRA regional office and make an appointment to have their deer measured. There is no charge to have a deer measured or entered into the Tennessee Deer Registry. The animal must have been legally harvested in Tennessee to qualify and the antlers must have dried for a minimum of 60 days prior to being officially scored. Animals taken in another state can be measured to qualify for the national record books

Currently, the Tennessee Deer Registry has 1,851 deer entered. Of these, there are Archery: typical—512, non-typical—23 and Gun: typical—1,193, non-typical—123. Muzzleloader harvest is included in the gun section.

            In addition to the Tennessee Registry, there are a number of organizations that keep national records on big game animals. Some of these organizations do require a fee to enter your deer into their record book.

            Although the Boone and Crockett Club records animals taken by any archery, muzzleloader, or modern firearm, other organizations keep records just for archery harvests or just muzzleloading rifle harvests.

            The Pope and Young Club, for example, records animals taken exclusively with archery equipment. Those minimum required measurements for whitetail deer are 125 for typical and 155 for non-typical.

            While muzzleloader hunters may record their harvests with the Boone and Crockett Club,  the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association also maintains a record book for muzzleloader harvests with a minimum score of 130 for typical and 160 for non-typical.

            Hunters may go to the programs section of this web site to find a score sheet. They can also “plug in” their measurements to see if their deer comes close to the minimum score required for entry into any of the record books.

            So if you, or someone you know, has a “Wow!” deer hanging on the wall that has not been scored, take it to one of the outdoor shows where deer scoring will take place or contact your nearest TWRA regional office and make an appointment to have it officially measured. It will provide the TWRA with some important data about Tennessee’s deer herd and it just might give you some bragging rights.