Bull elk harvested in Arizona may be new archery world record
Getting a potential new archery world-record bull elk in Arizona--a 7x7 typical bull with 60-day entry scores of 423 6/8 inches gross and 414 0/8 inches net--was a bit of a coin toss for Shawn Patterson. Ironically, he lost the coin toss but got the monster bull anyway in Hunt Unit 10 in northern Arizona on Sept. 16, 2005.
The huge bull had been spotted the day before, but in another area a couple of miles away. The guide service, John McClendon & Son's Guide Service in Flagstaff, had two clients in the field. They flipped a coin to see who would get a chance at the huge bull. Shawn lost. Or thought he had. As it turned out, the huge bull had moved into the area he would be hunting.
Shawn, a soft-spoken 41-year-old archer from Chandler, knows about coin tosses in big games: He was a defensive lineman at Arizona State University and played with the Green Bay Packers from 1988-1993.
Still, Shawn was not really aware of the size of the bull until some time after taking his kill shot. In fact, he thought the game was over earlier in the day when he and the guide, Levi McClendon, got busted by a rag-horn bull that came around a corner and saw them. "The raghorn ran off and all the bulls scattered," said Shawn. "We thought it was all over."
Patterson and his guide still stuck to tracking the big bull for about 400 or so yards, until it entered a huge thicket of junipers and pinyons, and they lost its tracks in the rocky terrain. "We had about given up. Then a bull bugled in the distance, and the monster elk responded. We had heard it call once before, it had a distinctive, throaty sound. We knew it was him."
Finding the big bull was still a challenge. "It was just a jungle out there. The junipers were really thick. We never did see the whole bull, just glimpses of its huge rack. We didn't know if it was a 350, 370 or a 400 bull. All I really knew was that you don't pass up a bull that big."
Shawn saw the direction the bull was moving, and positioned himself to have a shot when the elk stepped across a 15-foot-wide gap in the thick junipers. "I was concentrating so much on making a good shot that I really didn't see how huge the rack was, I just knew it was big."
At first, Shawn thought he had missed having a perfect shot placement. "The bull was at a slight angle, and I thought I had shot a few inches too far to the right and a little too low. As it turned out, it was a nearly perfect kill shot."
He and the guide backed off so they wouldn't spook the big bull into running. "Many times, they will go 20 or 30 yards and look back. If they see you, they will take off. We wanted to give the bull some room to be comfortable and avoid spooking it."
They waited about 30 minutes, then followed the tracks. As it turned out, the precaution wasn't necessary. Shawn had achieved a near-perfect kill shot and the bull went 93 yards and died. Shawn finally got to see how magnificent the bull truly was.
"To put it mildly, it was a great hunt," Shawn said, then added the philosophy he has shared with other media. "To me, being able to be in the field, that's the cake. To get a good shot at an elk, that's the icing. And to actually harvest something like this, that's the cherry on top."
Shawn will have to wait some time before finding out whether his cherry on top is a new world record or not. The bull will be officially scored by the Pope & Young Club during its convention during April of 2007 in Lancaster, Pa. At least for now, it appears the Patterson bull exceeds the current 409 2/8 inch archery record bull taken in 2000 by Chuck Adam