By Montana Grant

Posted: September 17, 2022


How heavy was your buck or bull? Normally, when you knock down a big critter, the hunter does not have a weighing scale in their backpack. If you quarter the animal, accurate weighing is also lost. Removing the guts will also change the weight of what you guess as a huge critter. 

There are other ways to accurately guesstimate the weight of big fish and deer. One of my buddies tagged a nice Mule deer. He swore that it was well over 300 lbs. This size typically has bragging rights associated with it. It was time to accurately double check his guess.

We used a suspended weighing scale first. Then we used a tape measure to measure the deer’s girth. Both weights were within 10 pounds and only 245 pounds! So much for guessing.

In Alaska, we caught HUGE Halibuts. When we got back to the dock, it took two boat boys to haul them to the scales. Instead of weighing the Big Butts, they used a tape measure to determine the fish’s weight. They then declared the fish to be 157 lbs. I then asked them to use the standard suspended scales and the weights were within 5 lbs. of each other.

There are certainly exceptions to the measuring rule. Condition, health, body fat, and age will all cause variations. There are also over 40 distinct different species of deer in North America. Using a Deer tape will at least give you an in the ballpark, more honest estimation that can be bragged upon.

To make a deer tape, use these numbers based upon hundreds of deer measurements. 

40-inch chest= 130 pounds.

41” chest= 138 lbs.

42” chest =145 lbs.

43” = 153 lbs.

44” = 160 Lbs.

45” = 169 lbs.

46” = 176 lbs.

47” = 184 lbs.

48” = 192 lbs.

49” = 199 lbs.

50” = 207 lbs.

51” = 215 lbs.

52” = 222 lbs.

53” = 230 lbs.

54” = 238 lbs.

55” = 246 lbs.

56” = 253 lbs.

57” = 261 lbs.

58” = 269 lbs.

59” = 276 lbs.

60” = 284 lbs.

After this point, simply add 8 pounds per inch of circumference.

It is important to remember to accurately measure the chest consistently. First, place the tape directly behind the animal’s front leg while it is flat on the ground. Secondly, run the tape snuggly around the shoulder. Thirdly, make sure that the chest cavity is not open or compressed.

Southern deer need a different adjustment. This includes Texas deer. Chest circumference x 5.6, minus 94 = dressed weight.

Midwest deer especially Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin means Circumference x 7.7, minus 178 to get accurate dressed weight.

If you are a Pennsylvania deer hunter, or anywhere else, take the circumference measurement x 6.5, minus 120 = dressed weight.

If you are interested in knowing the on the hoof, live weight, here are the adjustments.

For Midwest and western hunters, multiply the dressed weight by 1.25 and add 2.6 lbs. For Southern deer, multiply the dressed weight by 1.17 and add 5 lbs.

To estimate how much meat your deer should yield, divide the dressed weight in half.

This weight will vary if you make sausage, add meat to the grind, or leave the bones in.

Now I know that some hunter’s heads may explode if they need to do a little Math. Simply write down the formula or make a copy of this article and keep it in your hunting license pouch. Remember that your cellphone also has a calculator app built in. With these tools, you can more accurately impress your buddies with some truly accurate numbers.

Real data means less BS!!!

Montana Grant

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