It's not official yet and still shrouded in secrecy, but the Boone and Crockett Club posted a photo and story on its website Tuesday showing what could be a new world record bull elk shot by a Montana archer.
Views of the posting on Boone and Crockett's Facebook and website have topped 1 million, said Justin Spring, director of the club's big game records.
An official measurer scored the bull's antlers at 429-6/8 net and 448-4/8 gross, according to the club's website. That compares to the current archery world record of 412-1/8 points, based on the Pope and Young Club's records of an elk taken in Arizona in 2005. Pope and Young is the keeper of archery records. The bull would rank No. 4 in the world when up against Boone and Crockett's rifle hunters. The No. 1 Boone and Crockett typical bull scored 442-5/8 and was shot in Arizona in 1948.
The caveat is that before the Montana bull can be officially scored there is a required 60-day drying period.
"They probably won't be quite that big when they shrink and dry," Spring said.
But the likelihood that the antlers would shrink so much that they don't beat the Arizona bull are fairly slim.
"The green score of this bull is 4-3/8 higher than the current No. 4 typical bull in Boone and Crockett's All-time Records," Boone and Crockett reported on its website. According to Spring, "This bull may well be the largest typical American elk taken in the last 48 years."
In comparison, the highest scoring typical elk ever taken by a rifle hunter in Montana scored 419-4/8 and was shot by Fred Mercer. The largest elk shot by an archer in Montana scored 409-2/8 and was taken by Chuck Adams on a private ranch in Eastern Montana. A "typical" elk has symmetrical antlers whereas a "nontypical" elk has antlers that are oddly shaped.
This new elk was shot by a Montana hunter who asked Boone and Crockett to keep his name and where he hunted secret until his buddy can get to the same spot and fill his tag before other ambitious hunters overrun the countryside, Spring said.
What Spring did reveal is that the elk was shot by a "good, down-to-earth Montana hunter" who was hunting alone on Sept. 10. It took the hunter a couple of days to pack the bull out, making it seem likely the animal was shot on public land.
"Generally we don't hear about it so quickly," Spring said, but he happened to know the scorer. "You hear those numbers and it's something you have to follow up on."
"The existence of outstanding specimens like this incredible animal is testament that today's hunters, wildlife professionals, and conservation organizations are achieving tremendous success by practicing sound conservation and wildlife-management programs," said Joe Bell, Pope and Young's executive director, on the Boone and Crockett website.
Spring said even though he has not filled his elk tag yet this season the Montana archer's success gives him a spark of hope.
"There's a chance all of us might" bag a bigger bull, Spring said, "but I wouldn't hold my breath."
He added, "I always thought I was a pretty good hunter until I started working for Boone and Crockett."