Record Quest officially begins Saturday at sunrise, in the maze of badlands and scrub timber of eastern Montana’s Missouri River Breaks.
It’s my home country, and I’m hoping that my familiarity from years of hunting bulls and mule deer bucks in it puts me in bow range of a big Montana bull.
I’ve been close a number of times – in fact, the bull in the photo above nearly came home with me a couple of years ago. [ Read Full Post ]
My friend P.J. DelHomme has spent much of his summer compiling population estimates and hunting outlooks for elk in every corner of this country, and what he discovered is both encouraging and remarkable.
We have more elk on the ground now than at any time in recent history. We have bigger bulls. More antlerless tags. More hunting opportunities. And much of this success is directly attributable to the hard work of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and its network of passionate volunteers.
P.J. makes the case that we may well be in the "Golden Era" of elk hunting in North America. The trends certainly point that way, and one of the remarkable details as you read his hunting forecast is that even in drought conditions, even after catastrophic wildfires, even after harsh winters that have depressed populations of other species, elk tend to thrive.
That's a testament to the hardiness of the critters, but it's also the best evidence that healthy habitat is the essential ingredient insuring healthy elk populations. As long as they have intact landscapes where they can survive tough conditions, elk will make it. And, as P.J. notes, elk are making a very good living almost everywhere.
Here's his national forecast in alphabetical order. [ Read Full Post ]
How do you tell the difference between a 300-class bull and a 375-inch monster? You look at their fourth point.
How do you know if you’re looking at a big raghorn or a mature 6-point? You look at the length of his tines. If his brow tine extends well out his nose, he’s a mature bull.
Those are just a few of the excellent tips on field judging bulls provided by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation this week. [ Read Full Post ]
In a time when billionaires get tax breaks and NFL team owners complain that their profits are too small, it can seem like there's no such thing as enough money. But, here's a story from South Dakota about a rich guy doing the right thing. Let it serve as a little ray of hope.
Bill Whitlow, a wealthy 63-year-old from Virginia, was ready to sell 2,400 acres of prime elk habitat in the Black Hills. Whitlow was sitting on a goldmine. Suburban sprawl was creeping in around him, and he could easily dump the ranch to developers for about $14 million. But, he ended up selling the land to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for about half as much. So, instead of being chopped up and developed, the property will be added to the Black Hills National Forest and preserved as wilderness. [ Read Full Post ]
Could you shoot an elk from half a mile away?
It’s a challenge, but I’m betting a good percentage of you could hit the target, dropping a bullet into a vital area the size of a stop sign.
A better question is: Would you shoot an elk a half-mile away?
It’s a question I ask myself a lot, as my gear and my ability keep stretching what I consider my effective lethal range, and I have fresh evidence that the answer is complicated. Check out this video clip of a hunter making a sweet 834-yard one-shot kill on a bull elk.
Before we get into the heart of the argument about whether these guys should have, or shouldn’t have, made the shot, let me point out a few salient details from the video: [ Read Full Post ]
I just found out I drew a Wyoming mule deer tag. I’m also headed to the Cowboy State to hunt elk with a crossbow for a Record Quest hunt.
Am I stoked? Naturally. But one reason I’m especially pumped is that this year is shaping up as an epic one for antler growth. Across Elk Country, a heavy snow pack transitioned into a wet spring. I’ve never seen so much heavy grass cover in the foothills. In higher elevations deep snow is being replaced by blankets of lush forage.
All those groceries are feeding the antlers that are surging from the crowns of bucks and bulls.
There are a couple of dark spots on this otherwise bright picture. The first is that the long, bleak winter across the West took its toll on animals. I’m hunting deer in the Wyoming Range, the very place where Wyoming game managers typically document significant mortality following cold, snowy winters. And the segments of the population most vulnerable to winterkill are yearlings and older bucks. [ Read Full Post ]
Everybody wants elk to return the land they once occupied. Right?
Wrong. Turns out that more than a few Debbie Downers are raining on the homecoming parade for elk in Missouri, and some residents of Kentucky also are less than enthusiastic about the return of Cervus elaphus.
Last week I covered the reasons why you want elk restored to your state, but there are two sides to every coin. Here are a few reasons you might want to think twice before you open your arms to embrace the restoration of elk in your state:
1. Their Appetites
Elk eat everything. Well, everything green, that is. As valley-floor farmers from Montana to New Mexico can tell you, elk don’t care if it’s high-dollar alfalfa or sugar beets or Aunt Lorna’s carnations. When they get pushed off public ground, or increasingly impaired winter range, they go where the groceries are. [ Read Full Post ]