The Bluegrass State's elk honey hole coughs up new record

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Lexington banker David Giles with his new Kentucky record buck-- that garnered 480 pounds of meat. Photo by Giles via Facebook

Knott County, Kentucky seems to be the place to be for monster bull elk as two immense animals-- including one certified this week as a new state record-- were harvested there this season. In addition, surprise, surprise, the old state record that has stood since 2009, also came from Knott County.

A rural county of some 16,000 in East Kentucky, the area has seen a boon in tourism for elk viewing, being home to an estimated 5,700 free ranging elk, the largest elk herd east of the Mississippi River. In fact, tourism magazines describe the area as the "Elk Capital of the East" while the five neighboring counties are referred to as "Kentucky's Elk Country Corridor."

This is in large part to a program started in 1988 that saw the reintroduction of the animals, largely extinct in the state since before the Civil War, into rugged coal company land and they have flourished, proving the conservation and game management theory in place there.

“Things are great in Kentucky’s elk herd,” said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Elk Program Coordinator Gabe Jenkins in this month's newsletter from the agency. “Hunters placed two bull elk in our all-time top 10 this year, and that’s after they did the same thing last season. Our top ten is getting bigger, and that’s clear evidence of our herd’s health and quality.”

The two bulls mentioned by Jenkins were positively impressive.

Bill Krider, of Wellington, took the one monster animal with Department Wildlife Biologist Dan Crank scoreing the 8 x 7 elk. It placed fourth in Kentucky’s all-time top 10 with a gross measurement of 397, which netted out at 368 4/8 when dried.

Then there was the beast harvested by Lexington banker David Giles. Back in October Giles made a 322-yard shot in Knott County on the opening day of the 2015 rifle, dropping the animal with his .300 Win Mag rifle.

“The adrenaline was there, but it all happened so fast, there was no way you could really get nervous about it,” Giles told Kentucky.com.

The animal, a 9 x 8 non-typical bull was scored bull at a Boone & Crockett gross 408-3/8" inches when green. Its net (and official) final score of 377 5/8 destroyed the previous record (also taken in Knott County) held by Terrell Royalty of Lawrenceburg by almost five inches.

Giles, 64, took the animal with the help of outfitter Hurley Combs of Somerset, and was able to dress a staggering 480 pounds of usable meat from the bull. He fully intends to mount the trophy.

As for Knott County and the rest of the state, officials think they may have a world record elk in coming years.

“Absolutely. I expect it,” said Fish and Wildlife Services spokesman Mark Marraccini. “It could be out there on the ground right now, but we just don’t know it.”

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