Head-Measurements of the Trophies

at the Madison Square Garden Sportsmen's Exhibition

During the week beginning May 14, 1895, there was held in Madison Square Garden, New York, a Sportsmen's Exhibition. There was a fair exhibit of heads, horns and skins, for which the credit largely belongs to Frederick S. Webster, the taxidermist.

At the request of the managers of the Exhibition, three of the members of the Boone and Crockett Club—Messrs. Theodore Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell and Archibald Rogers—were appointed a Committee on Measurements. There were heads and skins of every kind of North American big game. Many of them were exhibited by amateur sportsmen, including various members of the Boone and Crockett Club, while many others were exhibited by furriers and taxidermists.

Some of the measurements are worth recording. For convenience we tabulate, in the case of each animal, the measurements of the specimens exhibited by amateur sportsmen who themselves shot the animals. For purposes of comparison we add the measurements of a few big heads exhibited by taxidermists or furriers; also for purposes of comparison we quote the figures given in two works published with special reference to the question of horn measurements. One is the "Catalogue and Notes of the American Hunting Trophies Exhibition" at London in 1887. The moving spirit in this exhibition was Mr. E. M. Buxton, who was assisted by all the most noted English sportsmen who had shot in America. The result was a noteworthy collection of trophies, almost all of which belonged to animals shot by the exhibitors themselves. Very few Americans took part in the exhibition, though several did so, one of the two finest moose heads being exhibited by an American sportsman.

The other big game book quoted is Rowland Ward's "Measurements," published in London in 1892. This is a very valuable compilation of authentic records of horn measurements gathered from many different sources. In many cases it quotes from Mr. Buxton's catalogue. The largest elk head, for instance, given by Ward is the one mentioned in the Buxton catalogue. But in most instances the top measurements given by Ward stand above the top measurements given in the catalogue, because the latter, as already said, contains only a record of the trophies of amateur sportsmen, whereas many of Ward's best measurements are from museum specimens, or from picked heads obtained from furriers or taxidermists, who chose the best out of those presented by many hundreds of professional hunters.

At the Madison Square exhibition there were numerous bear skins, polar, grizzly and black, submitted by men who had shot them. There were a few wolf and cougar skins and one peccary head; but there was no satisfactory way of making measurements of any of these. The peccary's head, which was submitted by Mr. Roosevelt, of course, had the tusks in the skull, so that it was not possible to measure them; for the same reason it was not possible to measure the skulls which were in the heads of the bear, wolf and cougar skins exhibited by Mr. Roosevelt.

There were few Oregon blacktail deer heads exhibited, and these were not large. The one exhibited by Mr. Roosevelt, for instance, had horns 21 inches in length, 4 inches in girth and 17 inches in spread.

In measuring most horns it is comparatively easy to get some relative idea of the size of the heads by giving simply the girth and length. The spread is often given also; but this is not a good measurement, as a rule, because, in mounting the head, it is very easy to increase the spread; and, moreover, even where the spread is natural, it may be excessive and out of proportion to the length of the horns, in which case it amounts to a deformity. The length is in every case measured from the butt to the tip along the outside curve of the horn. The girth is given at the butt in the case of buffalo, sheep, goat and antelope; but in the case of deer it is given at the narrowest part of the horn, above the first tine; in elk this narrowest part comes between the bay and tray points; in blacktail and whitetail deer it comes above the "dog-killer" points, and below the main fork in the horn. Even in the case of elk, deer, sheep and buffalo the measurements of length and girth do not always indicate how fine a head is, although they generally give at least an approximate idea. The symmetry of the head cannot be indicated by these measurements. In elk and deer heads, extra points, though sometimes mere deformities, yet when large and symmetrical add greatly to the appearance and value of the head, making it heavier and grander in every way, and being a proof of great strength and vitality of the animal and of the horn itself. In consequence, although the measurements of length and girth generally afford a good test of the relative worth of buffalo, elk, sheep and deer heads, it is not by any means an infallible test.

With moose and caribou heads the test of mere length and girth is of far less value; for many of them have such extraordinary antlers that the measurements of length and girth mean but little, and give hardly any idea of the weight and beauty of the antlers. With moose a better idea of these qualities can be obtained by measuring the extreme breadth of the palmation, and the extreme length from the tip of the brow point backward in each horn. Caribou horns are often of such fantastic shape that the actual measurements, taken in any ordinary way, give but a very imperfect idea of the value of the trophies. Very long horns are sure to be fine specimens, and yet they may not be nearly as fine as those which are much shorter, but more branched, and with the branches longer, broader and heavier, and at the same time more beautiful. Thus, at the Madison Square Garden, C. G. Gunther's Sons, the furriers, exhibited one caribou with antlers 50 inches long, of the barren ground type, with 43 points. These horns were very slender, and would not have weighed more than a third as much as an enormous pair belonging to a woodland caribou, which were some 10 inches shorter in extreme length, and with rather fewer points, but were more massive in every way, the beam being far larger, and all of the tines being palmated to a really extraordinary extent.


With name of owner, and locality and date of capture.


  Girth. Length.
1. P. Liebinger, Western Montana, '93 12-1/2 19
2. Theodore Roosevelt, Medora, N. D., Sept., '83 12-3/4 14
3. Theodore Roosevelt, S. W. Montana, Sept., '89 12-1/2 17-1/2

No. 2 was an old stub-horn bull, the animal being bigger in body than No. 3, which, like No. 1, was a bull in the prime of life.

F. Sauter, the taxidermist, exhibited a head killed in Montana in 1894, which measured 14 inches in girth and 18 inches in length.

In Ward's book the horns of the biggest bison given measure 15 inches in girth and 20-7/8 inches in length.


  Girth. Length. Spread.
4. Geo. H. Gould, Lower Cal., Dec., '94 16-1/4 42-1/2 25-3/4
5. G. O. Shields, Ashnola River, B. C. 16-1/4 37-3/4 22-1/2
6. Arch. Rogers, N. W. Wyoming 16 34 17
7. Arch. Rogers, N. W. Wyoming 15-1/2 33-1/2 23
8. T. Roosevelt, Little Mo. River, N. D. 16 29-1/2 18-1/2

No. 4 had the tip of one horn broken; it is on the whole the finest head of which we have any record.

No. 5 was a very heavy head, the horns huge and with blunted tips.

A head was exhibited by C. G. Gunther's Sons which measured 17-3/4 inches in girth, although it was but 33-1/2 inches in length.

In Buxton's catalogue the three biggest rams exhibited by English sportsmen had horns which measured respectively, in girth and length, 15-3/4 and 39 inches, 16-3/8 and 38-1/4 inches, and 16-1/2 and 31 inches.

In Ward's catalogue the biggest specimen given had horns which were 17-1/4 inches in girth and 41 inches in length.


  Girth. Length.
9. Walter James, Swift Current River, Mont., '92 5-3/4 10-1/2
10. T. Roosevelt, Big Hole Basin, Mont., Aug., '89 5-1/16 9-1/16
11. Theodore Roosevelt, Heron, Mont., Sept., '86 5 9-3/4

No. 11 was a female; as the horns of the female white goat always are, these horns were a little longer and slenderer than those of No. 10, which was a big-bodied buck.

In Buxton's catalogue the biggest horns given were 5 inches in girth and 8-1/4 inches in length. The two biggest specimens given in Ward's were 5 inches in girth by 10-1/8 inches, and 5-1/2 by 9-1/2 inches.


There was no musk ox head exhibited by an amateur sportsman. One, which was exhibited by W. W. Hart & Co., had horns each of which was 29-3/4 inches by 20-1/2 inches; the height of the boss was 13 inches. One of the members of the Boone and Crockett Club, Mr. Caspar W. Whitney, has this year, 1895, killed a number of musk ox; but he did not return from his winter trip to the Barren Grounds until June.


  Girth. Length.
12 Theodore Roosevelt, Medora, N. D., Sept., '84 6-1/2 16
13. A. Rogers 6 12-1/2
14. A. Rogers 6-1/4 10-7/8

No. 13 measured from tip to tip 6-1/8 inches. The greatest width inside the horns was 8-5/8 inches; the corresponding figures for No. 14 were 7-3/4 and 10-1/4 inches.

In Buxton's catalogue the largest measurements given were for a specimen which girthed 5-1/8 inches, and was in length 15-3/4 inches.

In Ward's catalogue the two biggest specimens given measured respectively 15-3/4 inches in length by 6-1/4 inches in girth, and 12-7/8 inches in length by 6-1/2 inches in girth.


  Girth. Length. Spread. Points.
15. A. Rogers, Northwestern Wyoming 8 64-1/4 48 7+7
16. G. O. Shields, Clark's Fork, Wyo. 8-1/4 51-3/8 50 6+7
17. T. Roosevelt, Two Ocean Pass, '91 6-7/8 56-1/2 46-3/8 6+6
18. T. Roosevelt, Two Ocean Pass, '91 7-3/4 50-3/4 47 6+6
19. P. Liebinger, Indian Creek, Mont. 6-1/8 50-1/2 54 8+8

No. 15, as far as we know, is the record head for amateur sportsmen in point of length.

No. 16 has very heavy massive antlers; though these are not so long as the antlers of No. 17, yet No. 16 is really the finer head.

In Buxton's catalogue the three finest heads measure respectively 8 inches in girth by 62-1/2 inches in length by 48-1/2 inches spread, with 7+9 points; and 7-7/8 inches in girth by 60-3/4 inches in length by 52 inches spread, with 6+6 points; and 8-1/2 inches in girth by 55 inches in length by 41-1/4 spread, with 6+6 points.

These are also the biggest heads given in Ward's catalogue.


  Girth. Length. Spread.
20. T. Roosevelt, Medora, N. D., Oct., '83 5 26-7/8 28-1/2
21. P. Liebinger, Madison R., Mont., '89 4-3/4 25-1/2 25-1/2

No. 20 is an extremely massive and symmetrical head with 28 points.

No. 21 has 35 points.

A still heavier head than either of the above, with 34 points, was exhibited by the furriers, C. G. Gunther's Sons; it was in girth 5-1/4 inches, length 26 inches and spread 28-1/4 inches.

In Buxton's catalogue the length of the biggest mule deer horn exhibited was 28-1/2 inches.

In Ward's catalogue the biggest heads measured respectively: girth 4-1/2 inches by 28-5/8 inches length, and girth 5-1/4 inches by 27 inches length; they had 10 and 11 points respectively.


  Girth. Length. Spread.
22. G. B. Grinnell, Dismal River, Neb., '77 4-5/8 24 19-1/2
23. T. Roosevelt, Medora, N. D., '94 4 22-1/2 15-3/4

No. 22 is a very fine head with 18 points; very symmetrical. No. 23 has 12 points.

In Ward's measurements the biggest whitetail horns are in girth 5-3/8 inches, and in length 27-5/8 inches.


  Girth. Length. Points.
24. Col. Haselton, Chesuncook, Me., '87 8-1/2 41 27
25. A. Rogers 7 31-3/4 14
26. T. Roosevelt, Bitter Root Mt., Mont., '89 5-1/2 30 22

No. 24, a pair of horns only, is, with the possible exception of a head of Mr. Bierstadt's, the finest we have ever seen in the possession of an amateur sportsman. The measurements of the palm of one antler were 41-1/2 by 21-3/4 inches.

No. 26 has a spread of 40-1/2 inches, and the palm measured 29 by 13 inches.

In Buxton's catalogue the biggest moose given had horns which in girth were 8-1/2 inches and in length 35-1/2 inches; the palm was 41 by 24 inches; the spread was 65 inches. These measurements indicate a head about as fine as Col. Haselton's, taking everything into consideration.

The largest head given by Ward was 6-1/2 inches in girth by 39-7/8 inches in length and 51-3/8 inches spread. It had 25 points, and the breadth of the palm was 15-3/4 inches.

For the reason given above, it is difficult in the case of moose, and far more difficult in the case of caribou, to judge the respective merits of heads by the mere record of measurements.


  Girth. Length. Points.
27. A. Rogers 4-3/4 41-1/4 16
28. T. Roosevelt, Kootenai, B. C., Sept., '88 5-1/2 32 14

Neither of these is a big head. C. G. Gunther's Sons exhibited one caribou with 43 points. Its horns were 5-7/8 inches in girth by 50 inches in length. They also exhibited a much heavier head, which was but 37 inches long, but was 6-1/2 inches in girth, with all of the tines highly palmated; one of the brow points had a palm 17-1/2 inches high.

In Buxton's catalogue the biggest caribou antler given girthed 5-1/2 inches and was in length 37-1/2 inches. The biggest measurements given by Ward are 5-5/8 inches in girth by 60 inches in length for a specimen with 37 points.