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Elk Camp: Super Bull Weekend

Hunters abuzz about jump in trophy bull production

By: Steve Wagner, OutdoorChannel.com

LAS VEGAS -- As sporting events go, it doesn’t get any bigger than Sunday’s matchup between the New York Giants and New England Patriots in Indianapolis. Though smaller, another type of sporting event this weekend in Las Vegas — Elk Camp — has its own kind of enthusiasm.

Members of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation are here to celebrate elk hunting and conservation.

Part of the buzz is a remarkable recent upswing in production of giant bulls. Between 2000 and 2010, hunters entered 586 American elk into Boone and Crockett records — more than doubling the number (289) entered in the preceding 11-year period. Double!

Utah stands way out. Trophy bull entries there have increased a whopping 446 percent.

Check out the photo gallery:

Another interesting stat: In the new millennium, five states have produced B&C bulls for the first time ever.

Why the big jump?

Biologists say many factors are involved. First, there’s simply more elk across the continent now. Where habitat is good, a trophy can turn up just about anywhere. That’s a particular point of pride for RMEF members, since the organization focuses on habitat stewardship and protection.

State agencies today are better at science-based management of wildlife populations. Too, more and more meat hunters are passing up small bulls in favor of cows. Small bulls are being allowed to get older and bigger.

All of this is super news, since it all ties back to good conservation and good hunting.

The lists below include state-by-state rankings for three categories of Boone and Crockett elk during the period 2005-2010, plus comparative data from 1989-1999.

B&C American Elk Production, 2005-2010

(Typical and non-typical trophies combined)

1. Utah, 142 entries (1989-1999 rank 4th (tie) 26 entries)

2. Arizona, 101 entries (1989-1999 rank 1st, 85 entries)

3. Montana, 67 entries (1989-1999 rank 6th, 25 entries)

4. Wyoming, 55 entries (1989-1999 rank 3rd, 27 entries)

5. Nevada, 53 entries (1989-1999 rank 4th (tie), 26 entries)

6. New Mexico, 46 entries (1989-1999 rank 2nd, 34 entries)

7. Colorado, 30 entries (1989-1999 rank 8th, 14 entries)

8. Idaho, 14 entries (1989-1999 rank 7th, 16 entries)

9 (tie). Alberta, 12 entries (1989-1999 rank 12th (tie), 4 entries)

9 (tie). Washington, 12 entries (1989-1999 rank 10th (tie), 6 entries)

11. Pennsylvania, 9 entries (1989-1999 unranked, 0 entries)

12. Saskatchewan, 8 entries (1989-1999 rank 12th(tie), 4 entries)

13 (tie). North Dakota, 6 entries (1989-1999 rank 10th (tie), 6 entries)

13 (tie). Nebraska, 6 entries (1989-1999 rank 16th (tie), 1 entry)

13 (tie). California, 6 entries (1989-1999 unranked, 0 entries)

16. British Columbia, 5 entries (1989-1999 rank 14th (tie), 3 entries)

17. South Dakota, 4 entries (1989-1999 rank 16th (tie), 1 entry)

18. Oregon, 3 entries (1989-1999 rank 14th (tie), 3 entries)

19 (tie). Kentucky, 2 entries (1989-1999 unranked,0 entries)

19 (tie). Michigan, 2 entries (1989-1999 unranked, 0 entries)

21 (tie). Manitoba, 1 entry (1989-1999 rank 9th, 7 entries)

21 (tie). Minnesota, 1 entry (1989-1999 rank 16th (tie), 1 entry)

21 (tie). Yukon Territory, 1 entry (1989-1999 unranked, 0 entries)

B&C Roosevelt’s Elk Production, 2005-2010

(Only one category recognized)

1 (tie). California, 64 entries (1989-1999 rank 4th, 11 entries)

1 (tie). Oregon, 64 entries (1989-1999 rank 2nd, 22 entries)

3. British Columbia, 29 entries (1989-1999 rank 1st, 28 entries)

4. Washington, 18 entries (1989-1999 rank 3rd, 12 entries)

B&C Tule Elk Production, 2005-2010

(Only one category recognized)

1. California, 42 entries (1989-1999 rank 1st, 17 entries)

Elk Camp News and Notes

Auction Highlights

At a luncheon auction on Day 2 of Elk Camp, a buyer paid $77,500 for a 10-day elk hunt on the Hualapai Indian Reservation in Arizona. A saddle mule named Possum fetched $20,000. An American flag that flew above a Special Ops headquarters in Afghanistan on the day of Osama bin Laden’s death sold for $14,000. Proceeds from these and other auction purchases will help fund the conservation mission of RMEF in 2012.

Celebrity Appearances

Spotted today at Elk Camp: Co-host Cameron Hanes of “RMEF Team Elk,” voted Fan Favorite Best New Series on Outdoor Channel, Jim Zumbo of “Jim Zumbo Outdoors” on Outdoor Channel, all members of the country-pop band Sawyer Brown, military hero U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Patrick Zeigler and wife Jessica.

Top Fund-raising State

In an evening ceremony honoring the top fundraising RMEF chapters around the nation, Wyoming was recognized for the first time as the No. 1 supporter of the organization’s conservation programs. In 2011, RMEF volunteers from Wyoming raised $1,388,569. For the previous six years, Wyoming had finished second to California. But now the least-populous state in the nation has bested California by some $8,000.

World Champs

The RMEF/Leupold World Elk Calling Championships began Friday with preliminary rounds of competition. Finals begin Saturday at 10 a.m. World champs will be announced here in wrapup coverage of Elk Camp 2012.

Take a Cow

Your crosshairs shift undecidedly between a raghorn bull and a big cow, both standing broadside at 60 yards. The elk tag in your pocket makes both animals legal. Which one do you shoot? RMEF offers five reasons to consider taking the cow:

1. Reducing a herd to fit the carrying capacity of its winter range is a form of habitat conservation. Culling a calf-producer is more effective population control. Wildlife agencies issue either-sex tags specifically to encourage hunter harvest of cows.

2. Letting young bulls walk improves your odds for a big, mature bull next year.

3. A more abundant bull population tends to be older which can improve efficiency of the rut. Result? More bulls surviving winter, higher pregnancy rates in cows, fewer late calves and better overall herd health.

4. A less abundant cow population tends to be younger, more vigorous and resistant to diseases.

5. As tablefare, cows and calves are generally better.

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