Growing up in eastern Arizona’s White Mountains, Alan C. Ellsworth has seen some great elk antlers. But he’d never seen anything quite like the set of antlers he spotted in the back of a pickup truck on February 28, 1995, a set so massive that he had to find out the story behind them.
“Being a local antler buyer, I was leaving my home to pick up some antlers,” Ellsworth told the Boone & Crockett Club. “As I was waiting at an intersection to pull onto Main Street, a blue Dodge pickup loaded with a washer and dryer, along with a great elk rack, drove by. As I pulled onto Main, behind the truck, I was in awe of the faded elk rack. It was turned upside down, straddling the dryer. My first thought was, ‘There’s a 400 point bull!’ I followed the truck for about a mile, guessing the 6×6 would score about 420 points. The truck turned into a local restaurant, and I had to see the bull up close, so I turned in as well.
“To make the story short,” Ellsworth said, “I was able to purchase the elk antlers. I took the rack back home, quickly put a tape to it, and came up with a score of 438 points. Telling my wife, Debby, that we may have a new state record, I hurried out the door to get back to my antler business. While I was gone I kept thinking, I must have made a mistake on my score. I didn’t think it was that big. When I returned home that night, I re-measured the huge rack, this time a lot slower! After double checking everything I came up with a score of 445-4/8. Now I was really excited, but also in disbelief! Could I possibly have a new world’s record?”
Ellsworth wanted to know more about the amazing elk and traced the story to the previous owner’s brother, Alonzo (Lon) Winters of Globe, Arizona. Winters, since deceased, was a second generation cattle rancher who grew up enjoying Arizona’s outdoors. Riding through the White Mountains during the fall of 1968, Winters and a close friend, Bill Vogt, spotted the magnificent animal near the Black River. Winters took down the elk using a Savage Model 99 .308. The hunters headed out of the canyon with their prize packed on their horses, but Winters had a dilemma to deal with.
“Tagging his elk presented a problem,” Ellsworth said. “In 1968, the Arizona Game and Fish game tags were a metal band. Lon was unable to fit this tag on the large elk, so he notched the bull’s antler between the G-4 and G-5 points, so he could properly tag his elk. His children can remember eating elk burger that winter, and the rack was stored for years in the garage. Friends and relatives remember how proud Lon was when he showed them his trophy.”
Nearly 30 years later, Ellsworth must have felt similar pride in owning the antlers and putting a conclusion on a great story: a new world’s record scoring 442-5/8 points.