Texas Mathematics Teacher Fall/Winter 2020 - 26

Math with Antlers
In addition to conservation, the Boone and Crockett Club
(2015) created methods of scoring deer and other wildlife
to help regulate the sport of hunting, and the scoring
methods for whitetail deer are used in this activity.
Figure 1 shows diagrams found at the top of the whitetail
scoring sheet and are used by hunters and the students in
this activity to determine parts of the antlers that should
be measured. The measurements included are length
measurements for each point on the antler, length and
circumference of the antler beams, and the distance the
antlers are spread apart. The instructor in this course
reviews the scoring methods of the Boone and Crockett
Club's scoring sheet, but the learning takes place when
students are engaged in collecting their data through
measurement.

Figure 1: The Boone and Crockett Club (2015) diagrams
help hunters identify antler measurements.
Math with Antlers Activity
This real-world activity involves the measuring and
scoring of deer antlers. Before I first implemented this
activity, I had a long discussion with my principal about
this activity and the sensitive topic of hunting. I did
not want to conduct this activity with my students in a
way that would make them uncomfortable, so I sought
guidance from my administration. The principal and I
both agreed that hunting was a large part of the culture in
our rural region of East Texas, and the activity I proposed
would be acceptable for my students. Many freezers in
my rural town are filled with various cuts of meat from
hunting deer and other game. Furthermore, there are
families that cannot afford the meat found in grocery
stores. We, as the authors, want the readers to understand
that hunting is a large part of the culture in this part
of the country, and using an activity that connects this
cultural practice to the mathematics students learn can be
a valuable method of engaging learners. There are several
ways teachers can engage students in real-world activities,
and I worked with my principal to use deer antlers as one
real-world application.

26

| Fall/Winter 2020

Acclimation with the Antlers
My principal and I decided I should only use sets of
antlers and not mounted deer heads. We thought the
life-like mounted heads may make some students
uncomfortable. I urge any teacher wanting to replicate
this activity to have an open and honest conversation with
their principal and students before implementation. On
the first day of the activity, I introduced my students to
the deer antlers and asked students to choose a set to use
and give me an estimated number of what they feel the
antlers score. I have taught this lesson to sixth, seventh,
and eighth graders, and their responses vary. The students
who have hunted most of their lives usually have more
informed responses related to their experiences than
the students who have never hunted. I then guide the
discussion so students realize a type of scoring system is
required in order to determine how a deer ranks among
other deer. This discussion results in my introduction of
the Boone and Crockett Club's (2015) scoring sheet and
the measurement locations illustrated in Figure 1.
Scoring a set of antlers requires an ability to use a
measuring tape, record fractional measurements, add
and subtract fractions and mixed numbers, and add and
subtract fractions and integers. I discovered that many
students and adults do not know how to properly use a
ruler or tape measure. I also found that fractions scared
my students. As my students began scoring deer antlers,
their fear of fractions decreased as their measurement
skills increased.
Measuring and Counting
I have several sets of antlers and bring them to class so
each student or small group has their own set of antlers
to measure. I ask them to start measuring anything on
their antlers that they desire. When I ask students what
the marks on a tape measure stand for, very few are
correct the first time. Many of my students have limited
experience using a measuring tape, so I spend time
helping students learn to measure a half inch, a sixteenth
of an inch, an eighth of an inch, and a quarter of an inch
using the marks on the measuring tape. Teachers must
take time to work with students to be sure they know how
to measure before calculating the score. I provide time for
each student to practice measuring their antlers before
moving on to other objectives in this activity.
Scoring a deer antler requires students to measure
distances related to the burrs, beams, and points of each
side of the antler (see Figure 1) and be precise with their
measurements. I allow free exploration with the antlers
and measuring tape to help diagnose where students
might be in their measuring ability. I encourage students
to be creative and measure whatever they choose. Some
students even measure the board where the antlers
are mounted. As they do, they write down what they
measured and the length. As the students are working, I
circulate around the room to check their progress or have
the students check each other's work.

Texas Mathematics Teacher



Texas Mathematics Teacher Fall/Winter 2020

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