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Best Dates for Bowhunting Trophy Elk

Is there a best time to be in the field with a stick and string pursuing a trophy bull elk? There definitely is for deer. What about elk?  

Pope and Young Records for Elk

To find out, I went to Pope and Young Club’s record book online. I wanted to look at monster bulls taken with a bow and I consider 350 and better a huge bull. So, I asked for all bulls over 350 gross in the 11 western states taken since 2000. 

Here’s the breakdown by state. 

I don’t know about you, but the number of entries from Oregon and Washington surprised me by being larger than expected and Idaho came in with fewer than I would have thought, only third from last. California is the sliver of blue in the corner and like the other coastal states, only looks at Rocky Mountain typical elk. 

Colorado also surprised me a bit. It has the nation’s largest elk herd but most people don’t see it so much as a trophy elk state as say Nevada, Utah and Arizona

Day of Harvest

Next, I plotted out the day of harvest for all the entries since 2000 that grossed at least 350 and put a LOESS trendline on it to smooth the results.

First thing, the chart is remarkably symmetrical. It looks nothing like a chart would for deer. 

Second, there is a definite peak time and across the West that turns out to be Sept 11 to Sept 20 with 28 entries on both dates. 

Prior to that range, the first week of September only comes in with 10 to 20 entries a day and just a day or so after the peak, it drops sharply into the end of September.

So, the next question is why? The three candidates are the timing of the rut, moon phases and how many hunters are in the field. 

About Dave Hoshour

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