Twilight was near when a hunter in New Mexico harvested an enormous bull elk on his family's property, ending a two-year saga with one well-placed arrow.
It was September 21. Bowhunter Ridge Crum, 27, was hunting over a waterhole on his family's cattle ranch near the massive Cibola National Forest. He was on his third day perched in an elevated blind waiting for a worthy elk to come into range when one finally did—and it was one he had a history with.
"Two years ago, I had him at 40 yards, but just couldn't get a shot at him," Crum said. "Two days later I saw him at 250 yards, but he was headed back up to the mountains in the Cibola."
Crum again recognized the huge bull elk later that hunt but couldn't seal the deal.
"I just watched him from behind a cedar tree for 40 minutes," Crum said. "He's kind of haunted me ever since."
Then, earlier this year, Crum caught the massive bull on trail cameras he'd set up.
On September 21, Crum creeped into the blind around 2 p.m. and waited for the elk to come by.
"I changed tactics a bit on Sept. 21 going into the waterhole," Crum said. "Instead of driving near the waterhole, I decided to walk in along a low drainage area about one mile to get to the blind."
That strategical change paid off. This time, Crum did get a shot at him from 40-yards.
The big bull's 8X8 rack had unofficial green-score of 436 1/8 inches, which places it well above both the current Pope & Young non-typical New Mexico state record and Safari Club International's New Mexico state record for non-typical archery elk.
Crum lives in Lakeland, Tennessee, but comes back to New Mexico to hunt. The Crum family property, Cat Mountain Ranch, is located within New Mexico's Game Management Unit 17, which is renowned for big bull elk. The area is a hotspot for hunters from all over, who come from all over every year for a chance at a bull like Crum's.
Enjoy the outdoors?
Sign up for daily stories delivered straight to your inbox.