Where the Big Bulls Roam

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Idaho Bull Elk
Idaho typically has tags available long after other states have sold out.

#3: Idaho

Idaho offers fair odds of trophy bulls, with an estimated 100,000 head of elk, but only a scattering of antlers scoring better than 350 inches -- Boone & Crockett bulls proving historically rare. Over-the-counter, first-come-first-serve elk tags make the top-end issue worth ignoring. Idaho also makes a good back-up state, as oftentimes elk tags remain available well after other states have completed lottery drawings. Also unique, leftover tags may be purchased for the non-resident fee, allowing hunters to hold two elk tags during a single season.

During the past 10 years Caribou, Lemhi, Valley, Idaho and Custer counties – in that order -- have given up the highest number of trophy bulls out of about 300 archery record-book bulls recorded during that period. These listings have helped Idaho elevate itself to the number three spot in archery entries. During that same period only eight 350-plus archery bulls have appeared, though nearly 42 percent of state-wide bulls scored better than 300 inches. Of the Gem State’s 59 Boone & Crockett qualifying bulls (typical and non-typical combined) only 11 (19 percent) have surfaced in the past 10 years, showing a perceivable downward trend in trophy quality many residents attribute to overhunting and especially wolves.

Colorado Bull Elk
Colorado is one of the few states that offers over-the-counter bull tags.

#4: Colorado

During the past 10 years Colorado has produced about 275 archery record-book bulls, only nine of these scoring better than 350, but nearly 40 percent of these scoring better than 300 inches statewide. This puts Colorado in a solid number-four spot in overall archery record-book bulls. Of Colorado’s 71 total typical and non-typical Booner bulls to date, only 20 of them have appeared in the past 10 years – 28 percent -- showing a slight slip in trophy quality in recent years. These have shown up in no single isolated region, though Douglas County has produced the most 360-plus bulls, with four in the past 10 years, though access is a real issue in this land of high-dollar subdivisions.

Recent surveys put Rocky Mountain State elk numbers close to 300,000, the largest population of any state. Colorado essentially manages for quantity over quality, so while archery record-book bulls are taken every year, Boone & Crockett bulls prove quite rare, even in limited-draw areas where hunting pressure’s lightest. Oddly, a high number of Colorado’s 350-plus bulls are taken in its most heavily populated areas; namely the Denver/Colorado Springs metropolitan area. Colorado’s more remote elk country can also be excellent and relinquish over-the-counter bull tags.

Wyoming Bull Elk
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#5: Wyoming

During the past 10 years about 225 archery record-book bulls have come out of Wyoming, 27 of these bettering the 350 mark and 65 percent of them scoring better than 300 inches; placing it just behind Arizona (sixth place) as an archery record-book producer. Boone & Crockett records reveal trophy production remains even in the Cowboy State. Of 110 total B&C bulls taken since 1883, 39 of these – typical and non-typical bulls -- have appeared in this decade.

Wyoming hosts an estimated 94,000 elk; producing some of the best elk hunting in the West in regards to ease of obtaining licenses in relation to trophy quality. Once your application’s submitted odds are good you’ll be hunting this fall, while several areas in the Cowboy State offer top-notch hunting success and trophy potential.

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