Skip to main content

Guide to Hunter Jargon

Learn how to "talk the talk" with this hunter jargon primer.

Prospective hunters, we have some good news and bad news. The bad news is that, if you are looking to find your way in the hunting world, there are a fair number of terms you are going to want to memorize. The good news is that you don't have anywhere near as many terms to learn as fishing newcomers do. Where fishing is largely complicated by its preponderance of different bait and tackle vocabulary words, a hunter's gear - a rifle, a treestand, a decoy - is markedly more straightforward. With that said, however, we've collected a few pieces of terminology that an enterprising hunter might want to have in their arsenal - just in case one comes up in conversation.

"Anchor Point"

Gun hunters can move onto the next term, but for bowhunters, knowing the anchor point is one of the most important aspects of hunting. When learning archery form, having an anchor point - be it your ear, your cheek, or a long strand of hair - is of pivotal importance to developing muscle memory and accuracy. The anchor point should occur at your full bow draw length, and should be easy to remember. The idea is that every time you prepare to shoot your bow, you will draw to your anchor point, building the consistency and muscle memory that can turn you into a great shooter.


You probably know this one, but if not, it's an essential. A buck is a male deer - the most coveted trophy for most hunting season veterans.


If you are a hunter out west, chances are you'll be shooting for elk. If that's the case, then "bugle" is a must-know term. It describes the loud bellow that a male elk (or a "bull" elk) makes when in rut. The sound can be used to track a bull or can be imitated by a hunter to lure bulls close.


Speaking of the "rut," it's probably one of the most-used terms in the hunting world, but one that some outsiders might not know at all. In scientific terms, the rut refers to the autumnal breeding season for deer and other cervid animals. "Cervid," on the other hand, is the general name given to animals in the deer family, including elk, moose, caribou, and deer themselves.


While it is most known as either a condiment item or a gambling term, "spread" is also frequently used in the hunting world as a measurement for antlered animals. "Outside spread" measures the distance between the two widest points of an animal's antlers, while "inside spread" measures the widest point on the inside of the antlers.


When non-hunters hear deer hunters describe their kills in number of points, they sometimes assume that there is a complex scoring method involved in hunting, perhaps regarding animal size, weight, location of harvest, and other information. In actually, "points" on a buck are measured in a much more literal manner: by counting the number of points on the animal's antlers.


One last antler measurement you should know if you are looking to enter the hunting community. A "non-typical" set of antlers is an asymmetrical one. A typical buck may have four or five points on each side of his antlers; the number doesn't matter as long as each side is equal. A "non-typical" buck, on the other hand, might have 13 points on the right side and 10 on the left.

you might also like

Guide to Hunter Jargon