The Largest American Elk Ever Caught in Oregon

OR Elk
© Froogle from pixabay and Sean Pavone from Getty Images/ via

Written by Rob Amend

Published: December 24, 2023

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Oregon’s rugged landscapes, including the forested Cascade Mountains, the Columbia River, and the Klamath Basin wetlands, provide a beautiful setting for wildlife and fish. Elk is one of the larger species that makes its home in Oregon. Elk in Oregon live in the Blue and Wallowa mountain ranges and the Coast Range to the north. The Cascade Mountain range is a divider between two subspecies of elk in Oregon, Rocky Mountain elk and Roosevelt elk. You will find the Roosevelt elk to the west of the Cascade range. To the east of the range, you will find the Rocky Mountain elk, also known as the American elk. So, what was the largest American elk caught in Oregon?

American Elk

A majestic elk standing in the middle of a grassy meadow.

American elk are among the largest elk subspecies in the world.

© Kaminski

After the moose, the elk is the next largest herbivore in the wild. Of these, the American elk has the second largest body mass compared to the Roosevelt elk but has the larger rack (antler) size. American elk are also the most populous species of elk in the world. They stand 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder, and male bull American elks can grow as large as 800 pounds. Females usually weigh closer to 400-500 pounds.

American Elk in Oregon

Elk on a ridge

These elk grazing on an Oregon ridge overlooking the ocean are most likely Roosevelt elk, as Rocky Mountain (American) elk live in the eastern portions of Oregon.

©Russell Bowen/iStock via Getty Images

American elk are the smaller of Oregon’s elk subspecies. They live in the eastern Cascades, the Klamath Mountains and basin, the Columbia Plateau, and the Blue Mountains. Oregon has over 74,000 Rocky Mountain elk, with the largest concentrations in the Blue Mountains and south-central Oregon. American elk in Oregon prefer more open habitats than their Roosevelt cousins.

What Is the Largest Elk Caught in Oregon?

American elk in snow

Hunters prize the majestic antlers of Rocky Mountain elk and their size.

©Bradley Wakoff/

A Discussion on Points vs. Weight as Markers for American Elk Size

While many people might think of weight as an indicator of the size of an American elk, hunters focus more on their antler size and complexity. Scores for antlers are based on a combination of the number of points on the antlers, the width of the main beam spread of the antlers from tip to tip, the inside spread, the length of the main beam, the size of points, and the circumference between points. Consequently, hunters do not always report weights.

The Largest Elk Caught in Oregon

Record books divide elk into two categories: typical and non-typical. Typical elk will have a symmetrical and regular rack of antlers. Non-typical elk will have antler points that are growing in different directions. There are specific rules for counting abnormal points on an elk rack.

Your average bull elk will total between 260 and 290 points. Hugh Evans, who shot an American elk in 1942 with an antler score of 418, holds the Oregon record for the typical American elk. He bagged the elk in Crook County, which is in central Oregon. The largest non-typical American elk was killed in Umatilla County, along the eastern portion of the state that borders Washington. Delwyn M. Henderickson shot the elk in 2015, and it had a score of 427 1/8ths.

What Is the Largest Elk Caught in the U.S.?

A large bull North American elk standing in an open meadow

The records for the largest American elk taken in the U.S. are also world records.

©Tony Campbell/

In 1968, Alonso Winters, a rancher, shot an elk with a score of 442 5/8ths in White Mountains, Arizona, with a .308 rifle. This was the largest typical American elk killed in the United States. Alan C. Ellsworth, the owner of the antlers, tracked down the history and reported the record years later.

The record for the largest non-typical American elk belongs to Denny Austad, who took his elk in September of 2008 with a score of 478 5/8ths in Piute County, Utah. He shot the elk, known locally as the “spider bull,” with his specially designed .308 rifle.

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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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