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Arizona Game & Fish Department

The Truth About Arizona’s Big Bulls

 

August 15, 2012



The Truth About Arizona’s Big Bulls

When I took the job as editor of this newsletter, little did I realize that I would have to put my life in jeopardy by going undercover to get the scoop on some real eye-opening and explosive information!

Last week I met with Wild “BB” (Big Bull) Wapiti… yep, the infamous “400” bull of the Forest Lakes area. We met at the Bugle restaurant well after closing hours, just me….and him. I could smell him even before I saw him…his odor drifted through the front door like a bad barnyard after a spring rain. As I held my nose, I tried to begin the interview.

He was a mess. He had velvet hanging all over his main beams and his saber points were still half covered. “nice of you to get all spruced up for the interview” I said. “BB” just glared at me and started talking in that hoarse whisper of his. “Hey buddy, lay off the bad jokes. The rut is starting early this year and I haven’t had time to polish my tines just yet.” I asked him where he had been all night and he gave me that sly grin of his. “I hooked up with the lead cow from unit 4B…She and I have had a thing ever since last fall.” I tried to act surprised, but word of this antlered Lothario’s love life had already been leaked to me by some of my informant Spike bulls.

He started to chuckle and asked me a question. “Know why cow elk can’t tell size?” “No” I said, “Tell me why.” “Because every hunter they listen to say these are 400 inches.”

With that he started one of those annoying deep throated chuckles and slammed his hooves on the table until he was out of breath. Looking at his impressive rack, I started to do some mental math and realized that the joke was really on us. He truly is a handsome bull and he does have an impressive set of antlers… but… they did not appear to be 400 inches. “Yep” he said, “The closer you look, the truth comes out. I’m a mere 363 bull. Just don’t let that out among the cows, OK? One of the bachelor bulls had a tape measure the other night and… well, you know, we just started measuring. I know every hunter who glimpses me goes into a tizzy, but those are really the inexperienced guys.”

I promised to keep the secret between us… and the readers. With that settled, I began the tough questioning that would lead to some frightful information.

“OK, why are there so many new record book bulls being taken in Arizona?” “BB” eyed me for a long moment and then spoke. “You didn’t get this from me, but a lot of the bulls are on the Juice.” I was stunned. “You mean they are using “AGH”? “Yep” he replied, “How in the world do you think they are growing those huge antlers in a drought” It’s all in the sauce “AGH”.

For those of you new to antler development, AGH is an acronym for Antler Growth Hormone, or AGH for short. I asked him how they had obtained the stuff and he started chuckling again. “We had some muleys bring it up from the Valley. Those mule deer don’t even know what the stuff is thank goodness, or otherwise we would have Boone and Crockett muleys between here and Payson and we don’t want that type of news leaking pout now do we?” I thought long and hard about the implications for the future. There would be inquiries by Pope and Young and the Boone and Crockett committees. Arizona bulls would have to be set off as non qualifying bulls. The financial implications were terrible. I owed it to our readers to get this news published as soon as possible. People would not waste their time applying for tags in Arizona ever again. All tags would have to go to in-state hunters. The damage has been done this year as hoards of non-resident hunters had applied and drawn tags for the mythical Arizona record book bull. But for next year, I vowed to get the word out to the world that our bulls are on the juice… and that records won’t stand up to scrutiny over the long haul. Even worse, after less than a year, those antlers begin to shrink until a 400 bull turns into an actual 312bull. It’s all in the moisture content and shrinkage. A little DNA testing on the past antlers will reveal that they are chock full of AGH. Just wait and after the standard 24 month drying period you wind up with the raghorn instead of the trophy of a lifetime.

“BB” was just grinning that sly grin of his again. “Listen buddy, I’ going to just R-U-N-N-O-F-T and leave you here OK? It’s getting near daylight and I have to get down into that deep canyon before first light. You write what you have to, but keep the circulation out of the woods.”

As he turned to go, he looked back over his rump. “Did you get drawn this year?” “Yep” I replied “Got me and archery tag in 3C.” He leveled his meanest glare at me and barked “Don’t go thinking you can get me with those puny sharp sticks boy.” I looked back at him and mustered all the toughness I could. “See you in a month tough guy and I will be armed.”

Before I could say anything else, he was gone. A distinctly smelly pile of droppings were the only evidence that he had even been there. I started to rush out the door when BOOM! I woke up as I hit my head on the toolbox in the bed of my truck. It was only a dream. I had been up north sleeping under the stars and it was only a dream. I turned over in my sleeping bag and there on the edge of my truck was….velvet. Antler velvet. “BB” had been there.. or had he? Best of luck to those drawn and a 10 % cap rate next year for those that were not! Spread the story, hunters will believe anything!

 

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