Ridge Crum, a skilled bowhunter, successfully hunted a massive bull elk on September 21. Crum had been tracking the elk on his family’s ranch in New Mexico for almost two years before finally taking it down with a 40-yard shot from his bow. According to Crum, the elk’s impressive 8×8 rack had an unofficial green-score of 436 1/8 inches, surpassing the current Pope & Young non-typical state record and Safari Club International’s New Mexico state record for non-typical archery elk.
Crum’s Experience with the Bull Elk
According to Crum, he has encountered the massive bull in the past and even had an opportunity to take a shot at it in 2021. “I remember having him within 40 yards, but unfortunately, there was a cow blocking my path, and I couldn’t get a clear shot,” he recalls. “Later on, towards the end of that hunt, I spotted him again at a distance of 250 yards and simply observed him from behind a cedar tree for almost 40 minutes. Ever since then, he has been on my mind, haunting me with his presence.”
Located in Socorro County, New Mexico, the Cat Mountain Ranch owned by Crum is a highly sought-after hunting spot. Situated within the renowned Game Management Unit 17, the area is well-known for its big bulls and attracts hunters from all corners of the country annually. The ranch is approximately two hours south of Albuquerque and is a popular destination for hunting enthusiasts.
According to Crum, the large bull was not seen on his property in the previous year, most likely due to the unusually high amount of water in the area which caused the elk to deviate from their usual watering and wallowing spots. However, this year, his ranch manager reported multiple sightings of the bull in the weeks leading up to the hunting season.
According to him, he had a hunch that the elusive creature would make an appearance in the small meadow situated just a short distance away from the base of the massive mountain that dominates their property. He explains that the area is densely covered with foliage, which makes it an ideal spot for the animal to gather his cows. After completing his breeding duties, the creature would make his way back up the mountain.
As the sun began to set on September 21, Crum found himself in a ground blind situated on the outskirts of a meadow. Suddenly, he heard the unmistakable sound of an elk bugling from a distance of over 100 yards. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to determine the exact location of the source. As he peered out of the front window of the blind, his gaze fell upon a female elk. However, his attention was soon diverted to the sight of a bull elk standing behind her. The sheer magnitude of the moment left him in a state of shock, causing him to drop his binoculars onto his chest.
As the enormous bull made its way into the meadow, he felt his anxiety rise. One misstep could cause the animal to flee back up the mountain, never to be seen again. Recalling the moment, Crum remembers, “It all happened so fast. I had to act quickly.” He positioned himself in the blind and readied his bow. After what felt like an eternity, the bull finally moved into position, allowing Crum to take the perfect shot. “I held my breath for over two minutes, waiting for the right moment,” he says. “And when it came, I didn’t hesitate.”
Crum released his arrow from a distance of 41.5 yards. The shot felt solid, but the bull quickly fled and settled about 80 yards away from Crum’s hiding spot. Fortunately, a large group of cows in the meadow didn’t become alarmed, and the bull remained bedded on the opposite side of the meadow until it eventually passed away. Crum patiently waited in his blind for his father to join him, and together they approached the magnificent antlers of the bull.
Reflecting on the experience, Crum, who operates a startup outerwear company in Memphis, Tennessee, remarked, “That hour and a half felt like an eternity. I was shaking uncontrollably. I even attempted to Facetime my girlfriend while waiting for my dad, but I couldn’t steady the phone, and my words were incoherent.”
It’s worth noting that the reported score of 436 1/8 inches provided by Crum is an estimated, unofficial green score that won’t be considered by the meticulous record-keeping organization, Pope & Young. Before the bull’s antlers can be evaluated by this esteemed institution, they must undergo a mandatory 60-day drying period.
However, if the score remains consistent, there is a high likelihood that it could establish a new state record, even after accounting for some natural shrinkage. According to Tim Rozewski, the Chairman of Pope & Young Records, the current top-ranked Pope & Young bull elk in New Mexico has a score of 420 7/8 inches.