I have never seen anything like the controversy that the Spider Bull has generated among hunters. The debate rages on here, and even the Addicted to Hunting crew is torn on this subject. Jason agrees with the guy’s that are against Doyle Moss and Denny Austed while Allen and I agree with Doyle Moss and feel like he is just doing a job that we all wish we could. The conversation is heated and both sides are going after each others throats with their comments. I have included an article that was in our local paper that has several excerpts from Doyle regarding the Spider Bull. I congratulate Doyle Moss and I hope someday that I will be able to go on a guided hunt with him! (Jason don’t worry I will share some of the meat that I will receive from this future hunt.)

Where do you stand? Click here and leave a comment on the Spider Bull and let us know what side you stand on. If you don’t want to comment you can still go there and read all of the other comments, I promise you will be entertained!

Here is the article from the Salt Lake Tribune. This closes the case for me and makes me appreciate this bull even more. Doyle Moss did participate in Fair Chase, this bull was not farm raised and there were no steroids found. What else is there to argue?

From the Salt Lake Tribune, 1/6/09:

It’s official.

A behemoth male elk dubbed the “Spider bull,” taken by a hunter on Monroe Mountain in central Utah last fall, carried the largest antler rack ever recorded by the Boone and Crockett (B&C) Club and has been recognized as the new world record for a nontypical American elk.

The antlers did more than land at the top of the record books – they also proved to be points of contention among hunters.

The final measurements — 478 5/8 — shattered the existing record of 465 2/8 taken from a bull found frozen in a lake in British Columbia in 1994. The points based on a combination of measurements from the antlers.

Doyle Moss, head guide for Utah-based MossBack Guides and Outfitters, led hunter Dennis Austad of Ammon, Idaho, to the bull.

“We all knew he was a special bull, but the reality of just how big he was really set in when we walked up to him,” Moss said.

A quick measurement by Moss in the field turned up a gross score of more than 500 points. And that’s when the controversy started.

Online hunting forums buzzed with rumors that the bull had escaped from an elk farming ranch or a hunting preserve. Columnists from national hunting magazines joined the fray and criticized the program that allowed Austad to bid and win a $150,000 elk conservation permit to hunt anywhere in the state for several months.

Money from the permit program funds conservation projects around the state. More than $17 million has been raised by the program in the last 12 years, $2.9 million of it in 2008.

But investigations by the state of Utah and B&C confirmed the animal was wild, was taken on public land, and was killed legally, which qualified it for the record.

“We are confident it was not a farmed elk,” said Terry Menlove, director of the animal industry division of the Utah Department of Agriculture. “We keep an inventory and there were no missing animals and it had none of the required markings for an elk on a farm.”

Moss can understand why some people figure the bull must have escaped from a breeding facility. He first heard about the bull when friend e-mailed him some pictures.

“Even I questioned how he could be so big,” Moss said. “There had never been a bull killed on that mountain that scored 400 inches. It was kind of shocking.”

Moss says anybody who spent time trying to find the bull during hunting season will confirm it was born in the wild.

“After seeing him disappear like he did during the hunts it is easy to see how he could have survived the last couple of years,” Moss said. “He was very nocturnal. We would see him the last few minutes of light before dark and at first light, but that was it.”

Jim Karpowitz, director of the DWR, uses that point to counter the argument that only a hunter with the means to pay $150,000 for a permit and guide fees could take such a trophy.

“All the other permitted hunters – archery, rifle and most of the muzzleloaders – had a crack at that bull,” Karpowitz said. “A lot of other people knew it was there and they all looked for it.”

Austad hunted with MossBack guides for 12 days in early September before leaving due to other obligations. He managed one shot at the “Spider bull” during that time. A Mossback guide spotted the bull, alive and well, on Sept. 28, two days before Austad was scheduled to return. Early on Sept. 30, Austad dropped the bull with one shot from a rifle he designed himself.

Karpowitz was impressed with the bull, but said it has never been the agency’s goal to produce a world record.

“Our objective is to maintain healthy population of elk and provide a diversity of hunting opportunities,” he said. “It’s exciting that we produced the largest elk ever known in the wild and an indication of the high quality elk program we have in Utah.”

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  1. I reckon y’all know where I stand on this, and I’ll say again: Congrats to Denny Austed on a monster bull, congrats to Doyle Moss for leading his client to what I’m sure is a dream come true for him. There is no controversy as far as I’m concerned.

  2. It’s been the case for a long time that money can buy good guides, the best tags, and access to private land.

    So long as the animals are wild and it’s fair chase hunting, have at it. Luckily, at least here in Montana, there is still plenty of public land and opportunity for the hook & bullet crowd.

    One downside of trophy madness, though, is it can feed the “kill an elk at any cost” mentality. ATVs offroad where they shouldn’t be, range finders & extreme long range shooting (and wounding), poaching with night scopes–it gets a little out of hand.

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