Elk, great pictures of the biggest elk ever harvested by hunters
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500 inches of antler! Utah produces potential world-record elk.
This is an Editorial Opinion piece
We reported earlier this week the harvest of what is likely to become the new world-record
non-typical elk. The "Spider Bull" was shot in Utah's Monroe Mountain unit in
mid-September and green-scores just over 500 inches of antler mass.
It's a helluva trophy, and is a testament to Utah's management in its hard-to-draw trophy
units. And the hunter, Denny Austad from Ammon, Idaho, should be recognized for his
ability to home in on what is likely the elk of the decade, and possibly the trophy of the
But there are a couple of unsettling aspects to this story. For hunters who are passionate
about America's tradition of free, public hunting and fret the implications of trophy
hunting at any cost, the Spider Bull represents a troubling trend.
For starters, look at Utah's elk management itself. The state's Division of Wildlife
Resources, heeding the preference of many of its most influential constituents, is well on
the road toward trophy management, not strictly wildlife management. It's harder to draw a
premium elk permit in Utah than anywhere else in the West, and while most permits are
fairly distributed in the drawand largely according to preference
pointshunting in the state has become akin to winning the lottery.
When you raise the stakes as high as Utah has on its draw, you promote commercialization
of the resource. Utah has essentially privatized wildlife on its Cooperative Wildlife
Management Units, in which ranchers can sell trophy tags for a public resource, and has
promoted outfitting for its most selective units. Who wouldn't hire an outfitter for a
once-in-a-lifetime sheep or elk or mule deer hunt in order to boost odds of shooting a
record-class animal? With a steady supply of clients who expect successand will pay
five figures to ensure itoutfitters are motivated to lease land, to invest in a
stable of guides to find and keep tabs on trophy animals, and to keep intact and advertise
a high-percentage track record.