Checking my email recently, I found a forwarded note from my good friend Michael Woodard (trips to Woody's place often spawn topics on my blog, sometimes for all the wrong reasons). The subject line read: "FW: FW: Idaho - elk - new world record."
Opening the email, I was pretty sure the contents would either consist of a re-circulated version of the Spider Bull, Photoshop fakes or some other 21st Century urban legend spawned by the cyber rumor mill. After very little digging however, I discovered that, for the most part, the email was indeed authentic.
The contents of the email had three parts. The first was a note from my buddy, the second was, I'm guessing, from my buddy's buddy with four questions and the final section was the supposed info on the attached pictures. The entire email read:
"Ranch elk or not.....this thing is a monster.
1) Is this a true story?
2) The "world record" for game ranch elk (score is only recognized by SCI, not BC)?
3) I wonder what the cost of this hunt was?
4) Genetics, old age and lots of phosphorus = huge rack.
When officially measured by SCI in 60 days, this will be the new world record for a typical elk. The current score done by an SCI Master Measurer is 525 typical and 546 non-typical. It will number 1 typical and number 4 non-typical. Forget it's score and look at the mass of each point and you will realize how unique this bull realy is. The guy in the photo shot him at the Broadmouth Canyon Ranch in Idaho on August 18. It was a challenging hunt on horse back and foot in the middle of the Black Foot Mountains of Idaho . Priceless!!"
Putting to use every hour of my 100-plus credit hours of a fallow two-year degree in Law Enforcement to work, I began my investigation. Yes, indeed, I Googled the ranch in question and found the photos and attached information that was included in the email.
Broadmouth Canyon is owned by the former NFL All-Pro Denver Broncos' defensive end Rulon Jones. After finishing his career in pro football, it seems Jones started working on creating some prime big-game hunting ranches. The result is Broadmouth Canyon that now has hunting operations in two states--Utah and Idaho. Both locations offer free-range and high-fence hunting and have beautiful lodges. Each also has a backcountry spike camp option available.
The Utah location is billed as: "Broadmouth Canyon Ranch is owned and operated by former Denver Bronco All-Pro Rulon Jones. "I put the same effort that made me successful in football into developing my ranches into some of the premier hunting ranches in the world." The Utah ranch has 30,000 acres including 5,000 for managed elk. The ranch is located in the beautiful Wasatch range of the Rocky Mountains just one hour from Salt Lake City International Airport.
The altitude at the ranch ranges from 5,300 feet and goes up to just under 10,000 feet. We also offer spike camp hunts in the back country... these hunts are western wall tent accommodations."
The Idaho location is promoted with this little description: "Our Idaho Ranch is located in the Blackfoot Mountains, bordered by the Shoshone-Bannock Indian Reservation on the south and overlooking the beautiful Teton Range of the Rocky Mountains to the north. It is 10,000 acres of beautiful pine- and aspen-covered mountains, ranging from 5,000 feet to 8,000 feet in elevation. We also offer spike camp hunts in the back country... these hunts are western wall tent accommodations."
The Broadmouth Canyon website touts, as should be expected, a 100% success rate on the preserve portions of their hunting operation. I mean, it is 5,000 acres of rugged terrain but it is still under high fence. The animals are in there somewhere, and guides that spend any amount of time in the woods and watching the animals should be able to put a client on them fairly quick. What say you, OL.com readers: Does hunting under a high fence, even a very large parcel of land in rugged territory still constitute some meaning of fair chase?
What I found interesting about the Idaho location, however, was not just the 5,000 acres of high-fence hunting, where this "world record" came from, but the success rates of free-range pursuits. The site claims a 90% hunter success rate for free-range mule deer and elk hunts over the last 20 years! That's a pretty good track record of consistency over a large period of time.
To answer the questions of my buddy's friend: 1) Is this a true story? Yes, indeed this does seem to be a true story. Broadmouth Canyon is a real place with real people (including a former All-Pro NFL football player as the owner) and runs a real operation for both free-range and high-fence hunting of elk (as well as mule deer, moose, buffalo and cougar). The site touts the taking of this record bull elk.
2) The "world record" for game ranch elk (score is only recognized by SCI, not BC)? Yes, the description accompanying the email (a very close version of which can be found here) seems accurate for Safari Club International. Boone & Crockett won't recognize animals killed under high fence; all B&C kills must take place under fair chase conditions, despite the size and terrain of the parcel of land upon which the animal is found.
If it was allowed by B&C, the bull (albeit, using SCI scoring) would destroy both the Typical (garnered by Alonzo Winters in 1968 with a score of 442-5/8) and Non-Typical club records (held by the Spider Bull owner/hunter Denny Austad).
3) I wonder what the cost of this hunt was? A complete price list for all available game animals (elk, moose, mule deer, buffalo and cougar) can be found by clicking here. But, in short, trophy elk hunts run $5,900 plus the cost of a license ($488). Management hunts cost $3,900 (plus license cost) and will net you either a 5x6 or 6x6 bull. Free-range hunts go for $4,900 plus the cost of a license.
Genetics, old age and lots of phosphorus = huge rack. Okay, this isn't really a question, but yes, it too is true! However, the website doesn't say what type of "game management" they practice, other than to say unlike many high-fence operations found in throughout the country (very notably Texas), that their elk aren't bought and added to the herd when hunters start to thin them out; the animals under high fence are supposedly a self-propagating bunch.
If you're of the mind to hunt either the Utah or Idaho property (or if you're a stalker of former NFL players) or if you want a free DVD offered by Broadmouth Canyon, you can email Rulon Jones at email@example.com or call 208-346-6648.
OL tracks down the facts behind a mysterious and massive bull that is rumored to be the next world-record. Will the rumors hold up, or was this bull taken from a fenced-in ranch?