Anyone who goes hunting knows that the most impressive catches are large game. In nature, being able to take down the strongest, largest, and fastest animals is a significant accomplishment. This is why many would see knowledge of the largest elk ever caught in Arizona to be important.
Arizona is a big game state with many open lands for hunters. The elk is a very popular animal to pursue in this state. If you want to learn more about the largest elk ever caught in Arizona, keep reading!
Background Information on the Elk
The elk, or wapiti, is the largest subspecies of red deer in North America. This animal also resides in the high mountains of central Asia. According to some genetic studies, the elk may actually be its own distinct species.
The elk originally came from Siberia and moved into Alaska via the Bering Land Bridge, along with caribou. They entered North America, along with humans, moose, and grizzly bears. Elk were only able to do this at this time because large fauna in these southern regions, which had been preventing movement before, had gone extinct.
They then spread into some empty ecological niches, not moving further southward than the desert regions that stopped them about 12,000 years ago.
Elk have adapted better to life in open plains than other red deer. They graze for their food, and they have adapted to handle long, cold winters. They have evolved to be very fast and have a great deal of endurance, making them a challenge for many hunters. Forming large groups is their main mechanism of protection from predators.
These animals live in many different habitats. These include hardwood forests, rainforests, alpine meadows, and dry desert valleys. Though they are large and powerful, other animals don’t have to worry about them because they are herbivores. Their diet consists mostly of grasses, shrubs, twigs, and tree bark.
Elk require large amounts of food, due to their sheer size and hurting behaviors. They are primarily grazers in the spring and summer when there is lots of food available. They will eat a lot of grasses and flowering plants.
In the fall, they are more likely to be browsers, feeding on shrubs and tree branches. Then, when snow covers the other plants, elk will resort to conifers as well.
Elk are ruminant animals, who chew their food just enough so that they are able to swallow it. They store food in a part of the stomach called the rumen. Then, the elk regurgitate and rechew it before it enters the second stomach and the digestion process starts.
Large male elk can be about 840 pounds or 380 kilograms. Exceptionally large ones, however, can be more than 1,100 pounds, or 500 kilograms. The average male elk is about 700 pounds or 315 kilograms. Female elk can be close to their male counterparts in terms of size and body mass (average of 500 pounds, or 225 kilograms).
A male elk (bull) is usually about 5 feet tall at the shoulder and about 8 feet in length from nose to tail. The female elk (cow) is about 4.5 feet tall at the shoulder and 6.5 feet in length from nose to tail. The newborn elk (calf) is about 35 pounds or 16 kilograms.
Elk in Arizona
Seven of the top 10 Pope and Young bull elk records took place in Arizona. Out of the seven largest elk in the world that were successfully hunted, six were taken from Coconino County, Arizona. This is the largest county in the state and home to about 20% of the hunting opportunities in Arizona. About 95% of the space is open to the public for hunting.
Arizona has a warm climate with a habitat that is very friendly to elk. The hunting is tightly managed, and the elk population itself is not too big and not too small.
The Largest Elk Ever Caught in Arizona
When it comes to elk hunting, the Pope and Young Club has two categories. There is the category for typical elk, which have symmetrical antlers, and non-typical elk, which have asymmetrical antlers.
Of course, this means that only male elk generally qualify, as only they have antlers. But a hunter would have a hard time finding a female elk that would be big enough to break a world record anyway.
Elk are scored in the hunting world in a way that may seem confusing. The score is the total number of inches of the bull’s antlers, including the sum of various measurements. This includes points, spread, beans, and thickness or circumference at different spots along the antlers.
Official measurements have to happen after a 60-day drying period, during which the antlers dry and shrink.
Among typical elk, the record-breaking elk in Arizona was successfully hunted by Alonzo Winters in 1968. It had a score of 442 5/8″. However, the record for non-typical elk is even more imposing, at 450 6/8″. This record was set by Alan D. Hamberlin in 1998.
This may be somewhat confusing because judges measured these record-breaking elk not by the size of their bodies, but only by the size of their antlers.
The Largest Elk Ever Caught in the World
Although Arizona is a prime hunting spot for elk hunting, it isn’t the site for the current world records. The largest typical elk ever caught was hunted by Stephan Felix in Powder River, Montana in 2016. This elk received a score of 430″. He carries the title of the Steve Felix Bull.
As for the largest elk ever caught, this was a non-typical elk. In 2008, Denny Austad was the one who successfully hunted this elk in Utah. He actually hired a guide who found the notorious Spider Bull and tracked him for months. Austin hunted this bull for several weeks before getting a successful shot. The Spider Bull achieved a score of 478 5/8″, shattering the world record.
Where Is Black River Located on a Map?
In the fall of 1968, Alfonzo Winters was a cattle rancher from Globe, Arizona. He was with a friend, Bill Vogt, and riding the White Mountains in the state. Near the Black River, he saw the large elk and using a Savage Model 99 .308, bagged the animal. The two men loaded it onto their horses and returned home to process and tag it.
The Black River is 114 miles long, south of Greer in southeastern Arizona, and the boundary between the Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the San Carlos Indian Reservation.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tom Reichner/Shutterstock.com
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What was the size of the largest elk captured in Arizona?
Among typical elk, the record-breaking elk in Arizona was successfully hunted by Corey S. Lupe in 2022. It had a score of 415 7/8″. However, the record for non-typical elk is even more imposing, at 450 6/8″. This record was set by Alan D. Hamberlin in 1998.
What was the size of the largest elk ever caught?
The largest typical elk ever caught was hunted by Stephan Felix in Powder River, Montana in 2016. This elk received a score of 430″. He carries the title of the Steve Felix Bull.
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