If you are looking to put a trophy tule elk on your wall or into the record books, you are facing a difficult challenge. Tule elk, the smallest subspecies of North American elk, were once almost extinct and are now found only in limited areas of my home state of California. With such limited range it's not surprising that demand for quality hunting opportunities far exceeds the supply.
The California Department of Fish and Game (www.dfg.ca.gov) issues approximately 350 elk tags through its controlled application process for tule, Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain elk, plus another 180 tags through the Private Lands Management (PLM) program, mainly for tule elk. Two tags that allow the hunter to take a tule elk will be auctioned in 2012, and another will be awarded as a raffle prize. There are no over-the-counter elk tags in California.
Tule elk hunting is thriving in California, where there are approximately 3,800 tule elk scattered through 22 herds. The herds are closely managed, and tule elk trophy quality remains excellent. Four bulls taken in 2010 exceeded 305 points B&C. (The record book minimum is 285.) Currently B&C's top 25 list of tule elk scores shows Grizzly Island and East Park Unit Reservoir leading the list. The top scoring rack is a pick-up from Glenn County scoring 379. A recent 312 entry from the Owens Valley shows that big bulls can be taken there too.
More than 26,000 residents apply in the drawings; so, the odds of drawing a tag are very low. If you feel lucky you can apply for elk, antelope and bighorn sheep draw tags online before midnight on June 2, 2012. The odds of getting drawn for the bull tule elk hunt on Grizzly Island (the premier trophy area) is more than 1,000 to 1. The next best........(continued)