Steve Carey wasn’t really worrying about how many points were on the antlers of the buck he shot on Monday morning. He just knew there were antlers attached to the deer, and that was good enough for him.

After looking more closely at the 193-pound deer, he still can’t tell you exactly how many points are on the odd, wide rack.

“I don’t know how they score it. When I went to tag it they said, ‘You’ve got to get one of those professional scorers to do this,’ because there’s a lot to figure out,’” the Bangor hunter said on Tuesday. “There’s drop tines, he’s got a couple coming out of the top of his head. There’s all kinds of little things. It’s somewhere between 17 and 21 [points], I’d say. My friend is a big deer hunter down in Texas and he thinks there’s nine on one side and 21 on another. He thinks it will be scored [a 21-pointer], but I’m not sure.”

Steve Carey of Bangor poses with the 193-pound buck he shot in Mount Chase on Nov. 23, 2020. The deer had antlers with somewhere between 17 and 21 official points, according to Carey. Credit: Courtesy of Steve Carey Credit: Courtesy of Steve Carey

On Wednesday morning, after another day to ponder the question, Carey said he thought the rack has only 17 scoring points. In order to be scored, a point has to be at least an inch long, and be wider than it is tall.

No matter how many points the deer ends up having “officially,” after being judged by a certified antler-scorer, Carey’s buck proves a couple of powerful points: You’re not going to shoot any deer if you don’t go hunting. And if you refuse to hunt when the weather is bad, you might miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.

As far as weather conditions go, Monday was about as bad as it gets in Mount Chase, where Carey has a hunting camp. But he had an old University of Maine fraternity brother — David Santeusanio — in town from Texas, and the two were determined to hunt.

“We knew [Monday] was gonna be a rainout. It was gonna rain hard all day. I’ve got two treestands that have rain roofs, so we said, ‘You know what? We’re going in for the day,'” Carey said. “We’ve got good rain gear. We’ll take a couple of bottles of water, we’ll take a couple sandwiches. We’ll just stay out as long as we can, and if we can’t do any more, we’ll come back to camp, regroup and go right back to the stands.”

The hunters never got to the “regrouping” phase of the hunt. Soon after settling into his stand, Carey began hearing odd noises from his right, in an area littered with beechnuts, a popular food for deer and other animals.

“I heard noises that I’ve never heard before,” he said. ” All kinds of noises in there. Then I started hearing the grunting and the snorting. I said, ‘OK, there’s some deer in there.'”

Carey later determined that the odd noises were the sounds of a buck tending to several does.

Before long, Carey saw a deer working its way through several lanes in the fir thicket nearby. First he saw the brown of a deer’s coat. At the next opening, he saw antlers. And when the deer stepped into the third opening, standing out against a thin coating of snow that had fallen overnight, he took the shot.

“And that’s all she wrote,” he said.

Carey knew at that point that he’d taken a buck, but said he was amazed when he saw the antlers.

“When I fired, I was looking through and saw it had horns. Those were a little more than I expected,” he said.

Instead of having thin beams, the antlers widen out into palms like you’d find on a moose’s headgear. And sticking off those palms are all kinds of points. Some will be deemed official and countable. Others won’t, depending on the intricate rules of antler-scoring.

Carey has taken larger deer, including a 250-pounder he shot in Bucksport one year. But he said the antlers on this buck are more impressive than those on any of the other deer he has seen in person.

“I’ve got some antlers mounted, but I’ve never seen antlers like that before other than on a Facebook page or on TV,” Carey said. “I’ve never seen horns like that, with that kind of a wide web, like a snow shovel kind of deal. I don’t know what caused that, but they were really unusual.”

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John Holyoke has been enjoying himself in Maine's great outdoors since he was a kid. He spent 28 years working for the BDN, including 19 years as the paper's outdoors columnist or outdoors editor. While...