How to Know “Trophy” Elk on Western Ranches
For some of you dreaming of nice big Western ranches, elk hunting may be a new venture. So, let’s talk a bit about trophy elk. What defines a “trophy”? Well, it is not a “bambi”, which is a yearling elk with perhaps only one spike with no branching. A “forkie”, or a two-point deer or elk, is not a trophy elk either. Abide your time and more tines will appear. Those tines are recognized as antler points.
Talk about Points
Antler points are just one measurement used to size up an animal. In the eastern USA, hunters add all the points together. The Western count typically only counts a single side of the antler spread. Antler and are counted kind of like a four-wheel-drive or 4 X 4. For example, 4 X 4 means four points to a side, 3 X 2 means three points on one side and two on the other, 5 X 4 means five points on one side and four on the other.
Now this gives us a little closer to the “trophy” elk. After the age of 9.5 years, most mature bull elk are at least 6 X 6 s. But not all 6 X 6s are trophies. As the count increases, the animal falls into a category. For example, 6 X 6 is referred to as a Royal Bull. 7 X 7 an Imperial Bull, and 8 X 8 a Monarch Bull.
Judging Trophy Elk
A Boone and Crockett Club Field Guide breaks it down like this. “A typical trophy rack combines long points, long beams, good mass, and a wide spread.” These characteristics weigh differently in the judging. Inside spread counts 10-15%, mass counts 20%, beam length counts about 25%, and tine link counts about 40%.
Judges will not determine a “trophy” based solely on numbers, however. In “Tips for Field Judging Elk,” from the Rocky Mountains Elk Foundation,
David Allen, president and CEO, explains:
“All elk hunters are fascinated by antlers, but not everyone recognizes what it takes to grow trophies. Big headgear is a product of genetics, age and nutrition provided by great habitat.”
Ultimate Trophy Elk
Essentially, the hunter does not really have time to assess antler points out in the wild. At times the hunter must rely on experience to size up the creature on the horizon. Boone and Crockett require a minimum of 360 total points for the Awards Book and 375 points for the All-time Records Book. So there waits the prize trophy elk of a lifetime and you very well may come across one on western ranches in our territory.
Contact Dave Harrigan or Hunter Harrigan at Harrigan Land Company at (800) 524-1818. Specializing in large ranch and recreational properties in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah. Let us introduce you to some big, beautiful Western ranches and what may be a brand-new world of hunting suited just for you, your friends and family, or clients.