by Randy King
Hunting often devolves into bragging rights: Who’s shot a bigger buck, elk, bear or … whatever? It’s all about size, sometimes.
Size matters to some, and Idaho has recently made the news for some big developments. But not in the best of ways. It seems that a new world record bull elk, with a massive rack measuring 526 inches, has been killed in the state. That would be an impressive record, if it hadn't been killed behind a high-fence elk ranch in Eastern Idaho.
The ranch is the Broadmouth Canyon Ranch located on 70,000 acres of non contiguous land—that’s about 110 square miles. The elk herds are self populating and the hunts run at a 100 percent success rate. The ranch offers elk, mule deer, buffalo, cougar and moose hunts. The price for a guided trophy bull elk hunt is $5,900.
What’s the rub? The issue among the hunting community is whether or not to count the bull because it was not a “fair chase” (wild, non-fenced) game animal. Most hunters make a distinction between “fair chase” and “free range." Free range animals are animals that have plenty of space but are still not able to escape the ranch.
It is kind of like the Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire of debauchery. Should they be the greatest homerun hitters of all time even though they are accused of cheating? They did hit all those homers after all. So should this bull go in the record books even though it had more advantages than fair chase game? That's for the record books to decide.