I can't understand the logic of counting one side either. In my experience, there are as many 3, 5, 7, 9 pointers as there are 4, 6, 8, 10, etc.
If you're only counting one side and you say it's a 5 point, does it have 10 total or 9 or 11? How would you know? Doesn't make sense.
The most common practice in my neck of the woods would be to specify both sides, 3x4, 4x5 etc. My opinon is that it's the best way to go about it. That way you know the character of the buck. Be specific about it.
It is strictly a matter of perception. You agree with what you're raised with. I know if somebody says they shot a 5 point mulie, he means he shot a buck with 5 main points on one side, and that's probably a big buck. Other side has 4 or 5 probably, doesn't realy matter. Conversely if an easterner tells me he shot a 10 point buck... what does that tell me? Is it a 3x4 with 3 total eyeguards? Is it a 4x4 with an eyeguard on each side? Probably there is some eaterner/southerner code that I am (happily) ignorant of
My dad shot a spike one year with double eyeguards on one side and a single eyeguard on the other. Very rare for a mule deer, especially one that small. 5 points total. I wouldn't go telling people my dad shot a 5 point mulie, that would be incredibly misleading. It was a spike with double eyeguards on one side, or in passing, just a spike
I think eyeguards are the main confusing point. Whitetails generally have them, mule deer may or may not. If they do have them, they are generally less pronounced than a whitetail eye guard. So out west, we don't count them in the point total. Scoring (measuring) is a separate issue. Maybe that's why we invented scoring? Somebody must have finally got fed up arguing and said "ah hell, let's just measure the sumbitch in inches!"