Stewardship

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The Stories Behind the Biggest Elk

These stories of the biggest elk in the Boone and Crockett records are not what most hunters consider typical hunts. They are, after all, non-typical elk. Terrible puns aside, these are tales of near death, unsolved killings, mistaken identity, lethal mud holes—and one typical story about a lady from Canada. 

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Number 1—The Spider Bull 
B&C Score: 478 5/8
Location: Piute County, Utah 
Year Taken: 2008
Hunter: Denny Austad

Local guides, outfitters, and anyone else who caught a glimpse of this behemoth elk nick-named it the Spider Bull. One look at those antlers, and you can see why. That web of bone also put a target on it, which is why Denny Austaud shelled out $150,000 for the Utah Governor’s Tag in 2008 for a shot at the Spider bull. For 13 days, Austad hunted that bull on Monroe Mountain with the help of his guides. He got one shot and missed. Then he wasn’t feeling well, but it wasn’t because he had missed. He got carbon monoxide poisoning and went home to recover. Two weeks later, the outfitter called him to come back to take another shot. On September 30, the guides found the Spider Bull at 180 yards, and Austad connected. 
 

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Number 2—British Columbia Pick Up 
B&C Score: 465 2/8
Location: Upper Arrow Lake, British Columbia
Year Found: 1994
Owner: B.C. Ministry of Environment 

The death of this outstanding bull does not do its life justice. This bull was known to the residents around Revelstoke, British Columbia, in the early 1990s. Conservation officers were stumped when its body washed ashore at a boat launch on July 30, 1994. A ferry worker found the carcass and noted a small-caliber bullet hole in the animal’s neck. When a conservation officer arrived to inspect it, he could not confirm the hole because the carcass was too decomposed. One person who had already helped himself to the elk’s rack reported finding it. He was then asked to return it, which he did. This bull died before hunting season while it was in velvet and likely would have grown even larger. It remains government property. 

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Number 3—The Cameron Bull 
B&C Score: 463 4/8
Location: Unknown, Colorado
Year Taken: 1936
Hunter: Frank Cameron

There aren’t many elk in the records with a paper trail this short. Take what you read with a pinch of salt. The records indicate this elk was killed by Frank Cameron somewhere in Colorado in 1936. Inside a thin manila folder at Club headquarters, other paperwork indicates a chain of transactions that culminates with the elk’s final owner, who purchased it off eBay. In those notes, records state that this elk was killed in 1936 by James McCormick Cameron using an 1868 Winchester Model 45/70. The mount hung in the King’s Gap Mansion in Pennsylvania for many years. Interestingly, a prominent landowner and businessman named James McCormick Cameron (1865-1949) was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Internet sleuthing revealed that James was a sporting fellow and “hunter of caribou.”  Perhaps somewhere along the way, James went to Colorado and preferred to be called Frank. To be safe, we’ll just call this the Cameron Bull. 

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Number 4—Minnesota Pick Up 
B&C Score: 462 2/8
Location: Kittson County, Minnesota 
Year Found: 2010
Owner: Ryan L. Muirhead 

Ryan Muirhead was out hunting whitetails with some friends when they came upon this bull stuck in the mud upside down—and alive. Slowly dying on a chunk of state land, this bull likely stumbled when jumping a fence, which flipped it on its back. Heavy snow had insulated a giant mudhole from below-zero temperatures, and the elk’s antlers found it. Muirhead, his buddies, and some locals managed to dislodge the massive bull. Once free, it staggered a short distance into some trees. Muirhead drove by a few days later and found the bull. Six hours later, it likely succumbed to pneumonia. He reported it to the game warden, who turned the rack over to Muirhead.

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Number 5—Kyla’s Bull 
B&C Score: 461
Location: Long Lake, Saskatchewan 
Year Taken: 2016
Hunter: Kyla R. Krushelniski 

The southern half of western Saskatchewan is prairie pothole country, and there is some fine elk habitat there. The second year the province held an elk hunt where Kyla Krushelniski lived, she drew one of just ten tags for the area. She hadn’t hunted since her teens, but this elk hunt would be her priority in the fall of 2016. With her husband, they hunted the pastures close to home and found plenty of elk. Kyla was being picky, knowing there were some whoppers out there. After a few days of hiking and calling, they got a response from the bull of a lifetime. This particular elk was coming into their calls. At less than 80 yards, the bull didn’t make it far after Kyla had it in her sights.

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The Importance of Records in Big Game Management

When you enter your trophy into the Boone and Crockett system, you aren’t just honoring the animal and its habitat. You are participating in a data collection system that started in the 1920s and was refined by Club members in 1950. Today, there are nearly 60,000 trophy records. By establishing a records database more than 70 years ago, the Boone and Crockett Club established a scientific baseline from which researchers can use to study wildlife management. If you’re still  on the fence about entering your trophy, we encourage you to read Why Should I Bother to Enter My Trophy. To the best of our ability, we ensure that the trophies entered into the records were taken in accordance with the tenets of fair chase ethics. Despite what some may think, the Boone and Crockett records are not about a name or a score in a book—because in the end, there’s so much more to the score.

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt