Help on judging elk

Discussion in 'Elk Hunting' started by esshup, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. esshup

    esshup Well-Known Member

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    A buddy and myself are kicking around the idea of putting in for an elk tag this year in Wy. instead of just buying points. This would be the first elk hunt for him and the 2nd one for me. Neither of us have killed an elk. In reading the brochures/websites from the different outfitters, they normally say something like "great success on 320 class bulls, with good possiblities on 380 class bulls".

    For a novice like me, that doesn't have access to elk in the wild, in looking at bull elk pictures, how do I tell a 320 from a 350 from a 380?
     
  2. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    Google Field Judging Elk and you will find a plethora of info.
    One thing that helps is to find out what the bulls lack in the area. In my area they will be looking 320ish then you will see that they have pathetic 6-8in thirds, dropping him down to the 300's. It's hard to learn without having a herd that you can look at with someone who is good at judging elk to teach you. Really focus on what is the bulls weakness this keeps them from inflating in your mind. I look at a bull and class him with what I know, so I see a bull and my first impression is 340 then from there I deduct for weakness, this works best for me. Trying to add up all ways puts me high.

    One thing that would be good is if some guys with pics and known scores would post them to this thread. I'll get a couple pics tomorrow and post them for ya of some 300 class bulls.

    Here's a good thread http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f86/monster-elk-trail-cam-46695/
     
  3. kcebcj

    kcebcj Well-Known Member

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    You won’t be able to tell the difference. It takes a lot of time spent looking at a lot of bulls to gain the ability to judge them accurately. Now a good guide who has spent all spring summer and fall watching the bulls in his hunt unit will be able to judge them darn close. There are just too many variables for the novice to get it right especially if he’s moving and your trying to figure out whether to shoot him or not.

    Here is a good place to start. If you’re looking at a mature 6 point bull and his horns are at least 36 inches inside main beam and the main beam is at least as long or longer then he is wide and the G4 is 18 inches or so (half of the inside spread) and he is fairly heavy (main beam has a 2”or greater diameter between G2 and G3 your probably looking at a bull 260-300. Look at the bull I took this year in the elk section on this forum. “Wild Idaho Bull” That bull is a rough 285.

    Beyond that it gets complicated. If I were you and had never taken a bull I would be thrilled to bust just a mature 6 point bull. There is a saying “Any bull is a good bull” There is some truth to that.
     
  4. esshup

    esshup Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. For myself, I'm not that worried. But, my buddy wants to get one for the wall, and I don't know if he'll go out chasing after one after he does get one on the wall. I'm more concerned for him than myself, because I'll keep on going. He's got a harder time getting time off of work than I do, and I have a relative that lives in Wy., so it's easier for me to go out there than him. We're both maxed out (so far) on preference points, and want to have a good idea what we're looking at when we do finally go.

    The pics/score is a great idea, that'll help more than anything else.
     
  5. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    This is a 297 bull that has a broken tine. It would go about 305-310 with a whole tine. If you only have one elk on the wall, a bull with six inch forks will "look" big. It is kind of like shooting a 14 inch antelope. Might not make any record books but will be a good looking trophy to mount.

    The way to score an elk is as follows:

    B&C score Plus
    50 points for public land
    50 point for DIY
    10 points for getting out of the truck before you shoot
    30 point for packing it out alone on your back for over a mile
    20 point for not having to lie about where you hit it.
    10 points if there was snow on the ground.
    5 points if it was raining

    [​IMG]
     
  6. sp6x6

    sp6x6 Well-Known Member

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    DITTO above, Having hunted elk my whole life in NW MT, your buddy would have a hard time passing a 300 bull. That is all I HUNT for bow, or rifle, last 2 years I HAVE NOT SEEN a 6x6 with rifle in hand, 54 days last yr. 56 this, did pass 8 5x5 bulls
     
  7. sdkidaho

    sdkidaho Well-Known Member

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    That's good help - this is what I found straight away: Elk Score Reference

    In my book, anything over 300 would be a wall hanger for a first time elk, and especially if it's the only elk the guy ever gets.

    I like your extra points method - classic. :D

    My first elk hunt was a draw permit for Grand Teton Nation Park. My dad and I had two bulls down by 7:30am one morning. We were probably 1/2 mile from the truck and lucked into a group of five or six bulls. We shot the two lead bulls and then the work started. We didn't get home until 10:30pm that night. Knee to thigh deep snow.

    What a great memory that hunt is. A six point bull (my dads) and a five point bull (mine). That five point was goooood eating. The six, not so much, but we weren't short on meat that year, and neither were a few other family members.
     
  8. MontanaRifleman

    MontanaRifleman Well-Known Member

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    If the spread is about 40"x 40" and the tines on average are "over" 12" in length, it will probably be a 300 plus bull gross. The eye guards and royal tines (#4) will usually be longe than the #3 and #5 tines.

    My 324 gross bull scored...

    Lenght of beams 46 and 48
    Inside spread 46 ( he was a lot wider than most)
    G1's 15 and 14
    G2's 18 and 17
    G3's 13 and 13
    G4's 15 and 15
    G5's 8 and 8

    He wasn't real heavy nor spindly.

    So if you can judge the lengths fairly accurately you can get a good idea of what it might score.

    To help, the outside of eyeball spread is about 9 1/2", ear tip to ear tip, avbout 24", and crest of head between the antlers to tip of nose about 17".

    Good hunting,

    Mark
     
  9. esshup

    esshup Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. I think I'll have to make notes to take along. This has really helped.
     
  10. bigngreen

    bigngreen Well-Known Member

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    Using the length of the horns to nose is really good for judging the lower brow tines, if the brows are out to the end of his nose, shoot! I also look for main beams that go past the shoulder. Also that the 4th and 5th aren't bunched up, they should be spaced out indicating better main beam length.
     
  11. Long Time Long Ranger

    Long Time Long Ranger Well-Known Member

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    I really like Buffalobobbs scoring method. The bull I got this year scored 505 according to that. I'll take that. Unless you have max prefference points in Wyoming don't get your hopes up to much for a huge bull. With our drawing system you could draw the best tag in the state on the first shot but not likely. There are soem general ares where you can get a nice representative 6x6. On your first shot at it I think that would be great. Basically if you see a nice 6x6 with long points, SHOOT.
     
  12. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    A lot of people I've known who haven't really seen how majestic a bull can be in the wild have grand ideas on opening day as far as waiting for a trophy bull and by day 2 it's "hooves or better":D. My son complained a few years ago about shooting a lot of spikes but not many bulls with racks. I reminded him that his season was normally over by 9:00 opening morning. Since then he has killed some pretty nice bulls. Elk hunting is a rush and it doesn't take much to get an itchy trigger finger. I have probably taken 40 bulls and STILL get excited about it. When that stops, I'll quit. My point is, unless you are VERY disciplined and fully prepared to wait it out, chances of killing a really good bull is slim in a lot of areas. Good luck and let us know how you do.......Rich:)
     
  13. elkaholic

    elkaholic Well-Known Member

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    Forgot to mention: I like Bigns' method of "if the brow tines are past the nose, Shoot" This makes a lot of sense and more often than not you will have better than a 300 bull without taking a lot of time to add things up.......
     
  14. esshup

    esshup Well-Known Member

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    Yep, maxed out on points so far, and the elk hunt won't happen in 2010. I'm a patient type of guy, so shooting the first thing that I see won't happen unless it has brow tines past it's nose!

    Thanks guys, still learning and reading. (and getting in shape)