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The Top 40 Typical and Nontypical Elk of All Time

Record-book bulls, from the Boone and Crockett Club archives

bugling bull
The only thing better than the rack on a trophy bull is the story behind how it was taken. To celebrate the biggest bulls and best stories from our elk hunting history, OL put together a countdown of the highest-scoring bulls ever killed according to Boone and Crockett records. On slides 2-21 you'll find the top 20 typical bulls of all time. Then on slides 22-40 you'll find the top 20 nontypical bulls of all time. Throughout the gallery we included the unbelievable stories of how 14 of these bulls were killed. Flickr
record book typical Arizona elk
Hunter: Alonzo Winters
Score: 442 5/8
Year: 1968
State: AZ In hunting towns, it's not uncommon to see a good-sized elk rack and four hooves sticking out of the back of a pick-up in hunting season. What isn't all that common is to see a world record rack thrown in with a washer and dryer set, stopped at a traffic light. For antler buyer Alan Ellsworth, that's what he saw February, 28 1995. Ellsworth is an antler buyer who grew up in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona — a place that has now become synonymous with giant, record-book bulls. But the elk he saw in the back of that pick-up was old and faded. Even so, Ellsworth pulled onto Main Street behind the truck and knew it was a 420-something rack. When the truck turned into a local restaurant, Ellsworth was feeling a little hungry himself and ended up buying the rack from its owner. Ellsworth traced the story of the hunt to the previous owner's brother, Alonzo Winters–a deceased cattle-rancher from Arizona. In the fall of 1968, Winters and his friend spotted this bull in the White Mountains near the Black River. Winters shot the bull with his Savage Model 99 .308. Even though the rack was stored in a garage for years, Winters would show it off every chance he got. Winters died in August 1994, the day before his 77th birthday. The elk was given to his sister, who Ellsworth ended up following into that parking lot in 1995. When Ellsworth and an official measurer put a tape to it, the score, along with proof of a fair chase hunt, proved that this elk was, and still is, the typical world record. Boone and Crockett Club
#2 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: John Plute
Score: 442 3/8
Year: 1899
State: CO When elk are killed a good century back, details of the hunt tend to get fuzzy. Nearly 20 years ago, OL outdoor writer Jim Zumbo struck out to see and hear about what was then the world's largest elk. Legend has it that John Plute, 31, was a miner around Crested Butte, Colorado — as most able-bodied men from the region were. He lived in a boarding house, occasionally trading wild game meat for rent. He hunted every chance he got. One day in 1899, he went up to Dark Canyon, 12 miles west of Crested Butte and killed a fine bull, a mighty fine bull. He didn't typically haul out the racks as it was tough to pay rent with something that useless back in those days. He told others about the size of his elk, and to prove it, he eventually went back in to pack out the antlers. Then in 1915, as legend has it, Plute gave the rack to a bar owner to pay his tab. The Rozman brothers inherited the saloon in question in 1948 along with the antlers. The rack was loaned out, stuck in storage, and returned. It was finally measured by an official scorer. In 1961, it was made official in New York City as the number one bull in the world. After touring about, the elk ended back in Crested Butte in 1971. It sat in a hardware store that's just about as old as the rack. Now, when it's not traveling the country as a display, it sits in Crested Butte's Chamber of Commerce downtown. And while everyone knows where that famous rack is, no one seems to have a clue about what happened to John Plute. Boone and Crockett Club
#3 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Unknown
Score: 441 6/8
Year: 1890
State: WY Boone and Crockett Club
#4 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Jerry McKoen
Score: 425 3/8
Year: 1999
State: NV Boone and Crockett Club
#5 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Ron F. Skoronski
Score: 422 5/8
Year: 2006
State: UT Boone and Crockett Club
#6 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: James C. Littleton
Score: 421 4/8
Year: 1985
State: AZ For the past few decades, some Native American Reservations in the Southwest have been producing an inordinate amount of record-book elk–the White Mountain Apache in Arizona for one, another is the San Carlos Apache Reservation in eastern Arizona. Now that word has gotten out of their potential, a trophy elk hunt on one of these reservations will set you back a mortgage payment (or 10). It was on the San Carlos back in 1985 that James Littleton went looking for a trophy. He'd shot big elk in the past, and wouldn't settle for just any 400-class bull. On the last day of his hunt, he and his guide spotted a 7×7 around 300 yards away. With one shot from his Weatherby, James killed the bull, which he thought looked big–he just didn't know how big. He doesn't carry a camera, so he didn't bother with photos. The bull he'd shot the previous year was a nice 6×6. He had it shoulder-mounted, but it didn't fit in his house. This bull surely wasn't going to fit as a shoulder mount. Recalling his hunt, James wrote that the then #3 largest typical elk in the world became a place for his wife to hang clothes on after ironing. Boone and Crockett Club
#7 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Charles F. Gunnier
Score: 420 4/8
Year: 1990
State: WA Boone and Crockett Club
#8 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Clarence Brown
Score: 419 5/8
Year: 1977
Province: Alberta Boone and Crockett Club
#9 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Fred Mercer
Score: 419 4/8
Year: 1958
State: MT Rough country has a tendency to produce big bulls and southwest Montana's Ruby River country is about as rough as it gets. On a snowy October day in 1958 Fred Mercer woke at 0415 to find what every hunter dreams about–a skiff of fresh snow. He knew the day was going to be a good one; he just didn't know exactly how good. He cut the tracks of a small herd. Trailing smaller hoof prints was the massive track of respectable herd bull. Fred had shot his share of elk in the past, and he was looking for a wall-hanger this time. Having never even seen the bull, he deemed it worthy of an estimated 12-15 mile foot pursuit up and down canyons. As he wrote for Outdoor Life back in the January 1960 issue, "In hunting elk, as with all game, you have to look for them where they are and trophy bulls don't hang out in back yards." As the sun sank in the horizon, Fred chose to try and intercept the herd as they moved into a headwaters saddle. Soaked in sweat, he scrambled up the final slope to peek over the ridge. And there was that bull, head down and feeding, not 50 yards away–broadside. Two solid neck shots (that's how they did it back then) from his .270 Model 70 and it was over. Fred cleaned the elk in half an hour and rolled into camp a few hours after dark. At the time, it was the best elk ever killed in Montana and only second in the world to a Wyoming bull killed back in 1890. Boone and Crockett Club
#10 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: J.G. Millais
Score: 418 7/8
Year: 1886
State: WY Boone and Crockett Club
#11 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Bruce W. Hale
Score: 418
Year: 1971
Province: Alberta Boone and Crockett Club
#11 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Hugh P. Evans
Score: 418
Year: 1942
State: OR November 1942 was the time of Guadalcanal, allied operations in north Africa, and the battle of Stalingrad. It was also when Opal Evans was cooking the evening meal in hunting camp in central Oregon. She heard crashing in the brush behind her and turned to see what it was. A massive bull elk lurked behind her. She bolted for the truck, locking all the doors in the process. When her husband Hugh returned to camp with Opal's brother, Leonard, she told them about her curious encounter and happened to mention his huge antlers. At about 10 a.m. the next day, Hugh found the stalker bull and killed him with his 300 Savage. The antlers were moved from barn to barn for 35 years until in 1977, when they were hung in an oak tree at Opal's daughter's house. She used them as a flower pot hanger. Hugh Evan's grandson, Joe Jessel, decided to restore the antlers to their original glory and asked a taxidermist friend to restore and mount them on a head. The taxidermist recognized the antlers as a true trophy and encouraged Joe to get them officially measured. Joe hauled the head to a Sportsman Show in Portland where it unofficially scored 419 3/8. The rack then went on to a local museum, which closed, then on to a local auto parts store where it was on display until 1994. The owner of the store talked to an official measurer who taped it at an even 418 where it sits just shy of the all-time top 10. Boone and Crockett Club
#13 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Merwin D. Martin
Score: 417 3/8
Year: 1991
State: WY Boone and Crockett Club
#14 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: William R. Dandy
Score: 413 2/8
Year: 2008
State: AZ Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
#15 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Doug Degelbeck
Score: 412 7/8
Year: 2006
State: UT It's a rare achievement to shoot a bull in the Top 20 of all time. It's tough to do it with a muzzleloader. And it's unheard of to do it with your six-year-old in tow. But Doug Degelbeck did all of that and has a whopper to show for it. The first day of his hunt was a bust, and his brothers went back to work. The next day, Doug's dad and Easton, Doug's son, were going to be his good luck charms. Doug spotted a six-by-six and drove the truck as close as he could. Then, dad went high while Doug and Easton took off through the brush. Bulls were bugling all over the thick brush. When a branch snapped on a nearby hillside, Easton and Doug froze. About 220 yards away, there was a monster bull. Five seconds was all it took for Doug to connect, but when the smoke cleared the bull was gone. Then the bull ran by, put his head down and hit the ground. As Doug recalls in Boone and Crockett's records, "I know I was just in the right place at the right time." Boone and Crockett Club
#16 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Elmer Bacus
Score: 412 5/8
Year: 1954
State: ID Boone and Crockett Club
#17 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Kenneth Patterson
Score: 412 1/8
Year: 2005
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
#18 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Denny Austad
Score: 411 3/8
Year: 2006
State: UT Boone and Crockett Club
#18 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Chuck Adams
Score: 411 3/8
Year: 2000
State: MT Imagine seeing this bull out in the wild, with bow in hand, on public land. Then you realize you filled your elk tag four days prior. Sure, any bull is a trophy, especially with a bow, but this thing will easily go over 400, you say to yourself. That's what renowned bowhunter Chuck Adams was saying to himself in that fall of 1999 when he was trying to fill his mule deer tag in southeast Montana. He did what any dedicated elk fanatic would do. He counted the days until the following fall, which had him right back in that same drainage. He knew if that bull was still alive, it would stick around. On September 14, he heard a bugle, saw an antler and took off to intercept the behemoth in a densely wooded draw. The bull appeared 40 yards below him. "I ducked, drew the bow, and eased back up to shoot," Chuck recalled in Pope & Young Club's Bowhunting Big Game Records of North America. "The stout aluminum arrow smashed home like a hammer against a side of beef, breaking a rib and blowing through both lungs like hot butter. Thirty minutes later, I wrapped both hands around the biggest elk antlers I had ever seen. The animal had gone less than 75 yards." Boone and Crockett Club
#20 Typical Bull Elk
Hunter: Picked Up
Score: 411 2/8
Year: 1999
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
1 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Denny Austad
Score: 478 5/8
Year: 2008
State: UT He's called the Spider-bull. Why? Just look at that web of bone. This Utah bull was also called a game-farm escapee and a mutant, but the Boone and Crockett Club did their own research, declaring this bull wild and the #1 non-typical elk. While the bull itself may not be controversial, plenty of hunters had their opinion on the way in which the bull was killed. There were viral videos of this bull in velvet, plenty of still images and enough rumors about it to fill a gun safe. Hunters knew he was out there; it was just a matter of time. Hunter Denny Austad bought the Utah Governor's Tag for $150,000 and eventually had the Spider Bull in his gun sights with the help an outfitter who had shot some summer video and sent it to Austad. He hunted for 13-straight days on Monroe Mountain for Spidey before even getting a shot off. He missed. Then he got carbon monoxide poisoning from his camp trailer and it took him two weeks to get over that. Then on September 30 with one shot from his self-proclaimed .300 Super A2 (a cartridge based on the .404 Jeffrey) he killed the Spider Bull at 180 yards. Biologists guessed the bull was seven or eight years old. He likely had a couple more years of solid antler growth to go, but then again 478 5/8 isn't bad. Boone and Crockett Club
2 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: BC Pickup
Score: 465 2/8
Year: 1994
State: Province: B. Columbia Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson would tell you fame has its drawbacks, namely that it can kill you. And it's not reserved for just us humans. In the early 1990s, near Revelstoke, British Columbia, a certain bull elk with a massive set of antlers called the area home. Residents and conservation officers knew of his existence, and most everyone let him be until his body was found washed up on a boat launch. According to local newspaper accounts, his rack was missing. A ferry worker found the carcass and noted a small-caliber bullet hole in the animal's neck. By the time a conservation officer arrived to inspect it, he could not confirm the hole because the carcass was too far decomposed. Hunting season had yet to begin. The person who lifted the rack did report finding the bull, and he was asked to return the rack, which he did. It still remains property of the Crown. Was it murder? Drowning? The bull's demise is still a mystery. And here's the kicker—he was still in velvet at the time of his death and some of his points weren't even fully hardened. In other words, the bull could have grown much bigger had he lived long enough to scrape off his velvet. Boone and Crockett Club
3 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Frank Cameron
Score: 460 1/8
Year: 1936
State: Unknown Boone and Crockett Club
4 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: BC Pick Up
Score: 458 4/8
Year: 2010
State: MN This bull was initially found alive, upside down, stuck in the mud, and slowly dying on state land in Kittson County, Minnesota. It had likely tripped when jumping over a fence, getting his massive rack stuck in the mud. Even though it was 25 below, heavy snow had kept a mud hole from freezing solid. Ryan Muirhead was out hunting whitetails with some friends when they came upon the bull. They initially freed the elk using a 2×4 and lots of elbow grease. The exhausted bull struggled to his feet, walked to a fence and fell. He got up a few minutes later and walked into the woods. A few days later, Muirhead went back to check on the bull and found it about 600 yards inside the trees. The two sat and watched each other for six hours, and the bull likely succumbed to pneumonia around 4 pm. The wardens loaded up the bull, performed their investigation and concluded no foul play. Muirhead got the bull back in a few days and now the #3 non-typical sits on a wall in his home, even though he's never hunted elk in his life. Mitch Haaby
5 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Alan D. Hamberlin
Score: 450 6/8
Year: 1998
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
6 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Kevin D. Fugere
Score: 449 7/8
Year: 1997
State: ND North Dakota may be better known for its pheasant hunting than for Boone and Crockett elk, but don't tell that to local rancher and farmer Kevin Fugere who killed this massive, nearly 450-class behemoth in 1997. In 1985, the Park Service reintroduced 47 elk into Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The elk did well, and moved onto National Grasslands as well as private agricultural land. While elk have a tendency to destroy fences and eat a lot of hay meant for cows, landowners will, in turn, let the appropriate agency hear about it. Hearing those concerns, North Dakota Fish and Game issued 47 permits for a hunt in 1997. Thirty licenses went to a resident lottery, and 17 were issued to landowners near the park, including Fugere. Thanks to a stiff wind, he was able to creep to within 30 yards of the bedded bull. Not wanting to shoot him in his bed, Fugere spooked him with a shout and the bull bolted. A shot from his 7mm didn't slow the bull. Fugere mounted his horse and rode to cut him off. With two more shots, the bull was down for good. He estimated the bull at a live weight of 1,200 pounds, and at the time, it would be the #2 non-typical in the world. Boone and Crockett Club
7 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: James Berry
Score: 447 1/8
Year: 1961
Province: Manitoba Jim Berry never set out to kill a monster. He's a put meat on the table kind of guy. But With one shot from his Winchester .30-30 carbine, he killed this bull north of Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba in 1961. He brought home 560 pounds of meat for his family. He thought the rack was big so he brought that home, too. And at home it stayed for roughly three decades. His family moved around, always toting the rack with them. When they moved to southwestern British Columbia, some of his cronies at a local rod and gun club were bragging about how many big elk they had killed. According to Boone and Crockett records, he told them: "If you really want to see a big elk, I'll show you." After seeing the rack, they offered him cash and guns, but he declined. He pulled the rack out of hiding, let a measurer score it, and back in 1992 it was dubbed the #1 non-typical at the time. Boone and Crockett Club
8 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Jerry J. Davis
Score: 445 5/8
Year: 1984
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
9 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Ronald N. Franklin
Score: 444 4/8
Year: 2003
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
10 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Dan J. Agnew
Score: 442 3/8
Year: 2001
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
11 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: John A. Shirk
Score: 441 6/8
Year: 2006
State: PA Boone and Crockett Club
12 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: William H. Junell
Score: 441 3/8
Year: 2008
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
13 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Joseph C. Dereemer
Score: 439 5/8
Year: 1971
State: WY Boone and Crockett Club
14 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Dan J. Agnew
Score: 436 4/8
Year: 2008
State: WA Boone and Crockett Club
15 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Lawrence Sanchez
Score: 434 3/8
Year: 1962
State: NM Boone and Crockett Club
16 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Peter Orazi
Score: 433 1/8
Year: 1977
State: ID Undoubtedly, there are countless bulls out there not entered in the record books. After all, entry is voluntary and some hunters don't know or don't really care about the books. For roughly 30 years, Peter Orazi sat on Idaho's largest elk thinking it too small for the books–he didn't realize there was a non-typical category for elk until Ryan Hatfield, then Assistant Director of Big Game Records for the Boone and Crockett Club, was able to track him down. Warning: trophy hunters might not like what they are about to read. Orazi was hunting a weekday east of Moscow in thick timber when he was almost back at his truck to warm up from the cold. A skiff of snow would have spelled easy tracking if Orazi would have actually needed to track a wounded elk, but bedded down just ahead of him was a woozy bull–relaxing, chewing his cud. Orazi shouldered his .30-06. The bull's vitals being covered by brush, he aimed right between the eyes. It was over with one squeeze of the trigger. And the spread on that bruiser? Its largest outside spread is just shy of 6 feet. Boone and Crockett Club
17 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Nathaniel Boni
Score: 432 5/8
Year: 1994
State: AZ Boone and Crockett Club
18 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Ben Young
Score: 430 6/8
Year: 1980
State: British Columbia Boone and Crockett Club
19 nontypical bull elk
Hunter: Chris Robb
Score: 430 2/8
Year: 1998
State: NM Boone and Crockett Club
#20 Non-Typical
Hunter: William Deweese
Score: 430 2/8
Year: 1887
State: CO Most of us can recall a hunt we missed due to other obligations — work and family will do that occasionally. Quite appropriately, those buddies who do make the hunt enjoy ribbing and chastising the delinquent hunter. Apparently, this sort of ritual has been going on for the better part of a century. Back in 1888, not only did Dall DeWeese shoot a massive non-typical and write his buddies to tell them of the hunt, but he convinced the local paper, The Canon City Clipper, to print the letter, further pouring salt into an already stinging wound. Here are the highlights. Near Turret Peak in southwestern Colorado, Dall and two old-timers took their horses up to 10,000-feet of pure elk country bliss, complete with lakes, streams, parks and enough grizzlies to keep things interesting. The first night they caught and ate 17 trout for supper and killed three fat deer for "camp meat." They were roused from slumber by a bull bugling through camp. To this, DeWeese wrote: "It was indeed a grand serenade, but we were so eager for a crack at his elkship that we did not await its conclusion." As for his elkship that sits at the #17 non-typical, it took more than few bullets from the Sharps and Winchesters of DeWeese's hunting party to kill the bull. (As a sidenote, DeWeese's account would be embarrassing to most sportsmen today as they miss, wound and lose a number of animals.) Even so, his conclusion is about as universal as one can be about hunting elk in the backcountry: "Reached home on the 17th ready for business and feeling that we have a new lease on life which could not be had only through an elk hunt in the Rocky Mountains." The full letter, along with more hunting tales can be found in Boone and Crockett's book An American Elk Retrospective. Boone and Crockett Club

Check out photos of the top 40 typical and non-typical bulls of all time.