As a male deer ages, he grows more spots on his antlers, or “rack”.
A deer is a male deer, and in hunting terminology, the tips of a deer are the individual teeth of its antlers. Generally speaking, the more points a deer has, the more prestige the hunter who manages to kill it will have. Many hunters protect the horns of their kills as a trophy, especially valuing large “racks”, as they are called. People other than hunters may also argue some points; biologists, for example, record information about the points in the dollars they study.
A deer’s “points” are determined by the number of teeth on its antlers, so an eight-pointed male deer has eight distinct teeth.
Horns are very interesting and quite unique physical structures. In most deer species, they develop only in the male and are shed every year after the mating season. As the horns grow, they are covered in an extremely soft living tissue that is known as velvet; as the velvet dies, the fawns rub it, and eventually the antlers come loose too. The older the deer, the more branches develop on the antlers.
Many hunters look for horns with a large number of spikes.
There are several main parts to a horn. The main beam is the main branch of the horn, and the tip of the main beam is counted as one of the points. Near where the horn emerges from the head, it is common to see an eyebrow tooth, a small tooth that protrudes upward, and is also treated as a point. The antler also produces several branches called teeth, and the total points on a deer represent the sum of all these individual teeth on both antlers.
Hunters who successfully kill male deer often hang the animal’s antlers on the wall as a trophy.
When horns are taken as a trophy, points are not the only consideration. Many hunters also look for very symmetrical horns without broken or misshapen teeth. Hunters also tend to prefer large sets of horns, looking for size in addition to individual points. People can also collect fallen antlers while deer part, though this is less mystical than hunting in many regions of the world. In certain cases the points are especially notable; bagging a 14-point dollar, for example, is considered a great accomplishment for a hunter.
Male moose have webbed antlers, while other moose have a dendritic configuration, like that of deer.
Points are not just used to calculate the value of a trophy. In some areas, wildlife management agencies have instituted “point caps,” meaning that dollars must have a certain number of points to be withdrawn. These point limits generally refer to points on just one antler and are designed to keep deer populations strong. The spots are also researched by some biologists who are intrigued about the process of antler formation and the impact of various environmental changes on deer antlers.