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B&C World's Record - Musk Ox

World's Record Musk Ox - Tie Scott

Craig D. Scott claimed this World's Record musk ox in 2002. 

Two-Way Tie!

Musk ox (Ovibos moschatus moschatus) populations in the Northwest Territories have been doing very well over the last few decades, after having been virtually eliminated during the early part of the last century. They have rebounded in both numbers and distribution to the point where limited-entry trophy hunting is again possible. Craig Scott was absolutely delighted when he found out his name had been drawn for a permit.


TROPHY STATS


Craig had no previous musk ox hunting experience. He’d never even seen one in the wild. To get more information, Craig visited Richard Popko, a biologist in the local Department of Resources, Wildlife & Economic Development (DRWED) office. Richard had many years of experience with musk ox that he gladly shared. Richard then showed Craig a large, framed picture of a massive bull musk ox that had been taken not far from Norman Wells. “This is what you want to look for,” said Richard.

On March 22, 2002, Craig and friends Garth Hummelle and Mark Kelly, set out to hunt in a series of rocky hills near Kelly Lake, about 18 miles northwest of Norman Wells. These hills are covered in alpine tundra and surrounded by thick boreal forest. They are a favorite habitat for the musk ox throughout the year, but particularly in late winter when snow depths in other areas can make movement and feeding a little more difficult for the animals.

After walking about a mile and a half, the men spied four animals in the distance. They snuck around a series of plateaus until they were 150 yards away. As they glassed, Garth told Craig there was a really big one in the group. 

After watching them for 20 minutes, Craig took careful aim and his first shot hit the big bull square in the chest. The bull took the shot, then turned and ran. Craig worked hard to catch up to the bull again and managed to finish off the animal…or so he thought. The valiant old bull managed to get back to its feet, turn, and chase Craig for 20 feet before falling for the last time not far from where Craig stood.

After letting the horns dry in his shed for almost three weeks, Craig again visited the DRWED office to shoot the breeze about his hunt. He was describing the size of his bull’s horns when the biologist asked him to bring them in. 

Biologist Alasdair Veitch unofficially scored the horns at 128-6/8 points, well above the standing record of 127 inches. While Alasdair reminded Craig that he was not a Boone and Crockett Club Official Measurer, Richard disappeared for a few minutes and returned with the framed print of the big bull he’d shown Craig earlier in the year. The shape of the horns and the distinctive scars and cracks showed that Craig had taken Richard’s advice to heart — he’d shot the bull featured in the photograph!

In 2006, another bull was taken by Jim Shockey tying Scott’s World’s Record at 129 points.  These two magnificent musk ox currently share the top spot in the records book.


World's Record Musk Ox - Tie Shockey

Jim Shockey harvested his World's Record four years later with a muzzleloader.

It’s snowing big, heavy flakes. Warmer than the last three days, though, and the wind has calmed a little, probably 10-15 miles an hour; pure white-out conditions. My Inuit guide Charlie Bolt has just gone out to chip some ice off the lake; we’ll melt it for tea. Charlie and I have hunted together many times, hunts that have always been organized by Arctic outfitting legend Fred Webb.


TROPHY STATS


Hard to get motivated to go out in this stuff when you know the odds are so low, but we’ve only got 2-1/2 days left before the musk ox season closes. I’m beat, but Charlie is insistent that we go out in this white out, and Charlie’s the boss.

We’re in the sleds now, headed west, I think. Horrible conditions, snowing, no horizon, no perception of distance; we can see, but a rock can be two miles away or it can be two feet away, no way to tell. No way to know if there is a cliff in front of you. It’s the oddest thing, everything is white. Even when you’re walking, everything seems normal and then all of a sudden you step into a wall of snow, or step out into thin air and suddenly you’re sliding down a hill.

According to the GPS, we’re 16 miles from camp. Just bumped into a herd of caribou — 200 of them at least; it’s eerie. Looks like they’re walking through the sky! It’s disconcerting, up is down, down is up, sideways is everywhere.

Musk ox! Eight or nine bulls, two that look good. They’ve started walking off so we’re getting organized; we’re going to go after these bulls. One of them looks like an ancient old bull with a really roughed-up boss.

We’ve walked 200 yards with our backs to the sleds, stepping out into a great white nothingness. It’s disconcerting. The musk oxen are behind a rise now, less than a mile away.

There they are! We’re behind a rock now, 80 yards from them, glassing. They’re butting heads. I’m waiting for the one big one with the wide flare, shallow curls, but really heavy bosses, to step out into the clear; he’s staying tucked in behind the rest. He’s obviously the oldest bull in this batch, but there are several other good bulls in here. What a magnificent animal. Now he’s stepping out into the open.

I’ve taken the shot now and he has ran out of sight over a snow ridge I didn’t know was there, but I was dead on him. Had to be a good shot.

My bull is huge! Big bosses all busted off and worn — he’s been rubbing on rocks! I’ve never seen a musk ox bull this old before; neither has Charlie. We’re standing in awe, staring at the bull. His coat is tattered, hanging in rags, and there’s a one-foot patch of actual skin pulled off and hanging. He was on his last legs for sure, this master of the musk ox living in this Godforsaken land. I could stand here forever in reverence for this animal, but we can’t. Here, forever is literally a moment of lingering away.

It’s pitch black, and snowing. I have no idea what direction we’re going. I’m lying on my back in the sled, on top of the musk ox quarters and hide, wrapped up in as much gear as I can cover myself in and I’m still getting cold. The wooden sled is bumping along in the darkness, pulled by Charlie’s snow machine. We’re in the middle of nowhere traveling to another spot in the middle of nowhere, but I have no fear.

Charlie won’t make a mistake. The Inuit are a living part of this land, an integral part of musk ox hunting. Without them, we from the south would die. Simple and final.

 

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-Theodore Roosevelt