Field Judging Caribou

Field Judging Caribou

Field judging caribou is difficult. Double shovels, double bez, long and wide main beams, good mass, double back-scratchers, symmetry, and more than two points at the top. Palmated points on top are best. When field judging caribou, the bottom of the rack is extremely important to the overall score. What’s down below separates an average bull from a great bull.

World Record Barren-Ground Caribou – 477 B&C
World Record Barren-Ground Caribou – 477 Boone and Crockett

Boone and Crockett recognizes five individual antler features that figure into the scoring of caribou. All of the subspecies are scored in the same manner.

No other deer species shows greater variety in it’s antler configuration. There is no such thing as a non-typical caribou.

Tips for Field Judging Caribou

Because there are so many measurements, field judging caribou can be complicated.

Guessing point lengths, and then adding them up in your head to come up with a total score can be daunting. But, if you want to keep it simple here are some tips. When field judging caribou, you’re typically looking for double shovels, double bez, long and wide main beams, good mass, double backscratchers, symmetry, and more than two points at the top. Palmated points on top are best.

  • Main beam: The main beam rises directly from the skull. It grows outward and backward, and then usually forward to a tip. From head-on , you want to see the width extending well outside the girth of the bull. When looking at the profile of the bull, look for a large “C” shape in the main beam. A caribou bull with an “L” shaped or main beam with just a slight arc is likely not a shooter. When the animal has it’s head down feeding, the top of the beams should be about even with his shoulders.
  • Brow palm: The brow palm is sometimes called a shovel. It is often found on only one antler that projects in a perpendicular fashion forward over the face. Brow palms might show any stage of development from a single spike, to a many-pointed broad palm. One brow palm is typical, and a double shovel is a bonus! Brow palms need to be wide. Reference the distance of the eye to the tip of the nose to determine good width. As far as length goes, at least one of the shovels needs to extend nearly to the bulls nose. You don’t need to count the points on the brow palm(s), but there should appear to be a lot of them.
  • Bez point: Bez points grow forward from the main beam just above the brow palm. They usually have two or more branches and often show some palmation. A good bull will have bez points that extend as far forward as the largest brow palm.
  • Rear point: Rear points or “backs” usually develop as an unbranched spike. They project backward from about the middle of the main beam. Think of the rear points as a bonus.
  • Tops: The tops are a series of distinct, separate points that develop at the top of the antler’s main beam. The beam often shows distinct palmation at this location. There should be lots of top points with AT LEAST two long points per side. Palmation here is important because it gets measured twice.
  • Mass: We don’t recommend getting too hung up on mass. Even though there are four mass measurements per side, the difference between a bull with ‘heavy mass’ or ‘average mass’ will make very little difference in the end.
  • Contact us if you’d like to go on a caribou hunt.
Caribou in Alaska Arctic Air
This is a good bull. It doesn’t have a great “L-shaped” main beam, but it has decent length. The brow palm is good and he also sports some nice bez points. No rear points, but good tops and decent mass.


We have some incredible fully-guided caribou hunts that have higher success on big bulls.
This is a really nice bull. He could use more of an “L-shaped” rack, but he still has fairly long main beam as compared to the bull above. He has a great brow palm that is super wide, has lots of points and extends past the end of his nose. His bez points are long, but could use some more palmation. His rear points or “backs” are awesome, and the tops on this bull are impressive but could use more palmation.


Notice the long L-shaped main beams on this trophy caribou bull.
Notice the long L-shaped main beams on this trophy caribou bull. 

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