In North America, there are 29 big-game species recognized by Pope & Young Club. Each of these animals is prized for its meat, antlers, or fur. In some cases, all three! Pope & Young Club keep bowhunting’s official records, and it shares data with wildlife agencies so they can analyze big-game populations.
To qualify for their records program, you need to meet their measurement standards. The Boone and Crockett Club, another hunting organization, keep similar records for animals taken with firearms.
So which are the five most commonly hunted big-game species? These include the white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope.
John Annett, an Ontario bowhunter, shot the heaviest whitetail ever. On government scales, the buck weighed 431 pounds – field dressed. According to that figure, it would have weighed over 540 pounds. Canadian authorities could not inspect the animal because it was butchered before they could inspect it.
Black bears are a unique, plentiful quarry with thick fur coats from their winter slumber and, especially in the spring season, are sought after by bow hunters for the lack of other game. A black bear’s hide can be used for many things, and meat is tasty when properly prepared.
On October 14, 2019, the largest bow-harvested black bear ever was killed in Morris County, New Jersey. Pope and Young Club confirmed it with a massive 700 pounds.
The bow season for elk usually occurs during the rut. Many bowhunters prize these large animals. A good set of antlers can make a nice trophy, and the meat is excellent. The primary states to hunt elk are:
- New Mexico
Mainly hunted from ground blinds, pronghorns are the fastest land mammal in North America. They can sprint up to 60 miles an hour! Pronghorns have excellent eyesight and can spot a hunter from over a mile away, so getting close enough for a shot is difficult. The fast speed of the animals makes them referred to as “speed goats”!
Mule deer are one of North America’s most hunted big-game animals, even though they’re not as popular as whitetails. During the early part of the season, bowhunters target big muleys while their antlers are still velvety.
Bowhunters mostly spot and stalk muleys, even though they prefer treestands for whitetails. Mule deer have excellent eyesight, smell a hunter from a long way off, and are very cautious. So, while they may not be as popular as whitetails, they’re still a worthy adversary for any bowhunter.
In North America, there are 29 big-game species recognized by Pope & Young Club. These animals are prized for their meat, antlers, or fur. In some cases, all three! The five most commonly hunted big-game species include the white-tailed deer, black bear, elk, mule deer, and pronghorn antelope.
Each animal presents its unique challenge to the bowhunter and has slightly different hunting seasons. So, whether you’re looking for a trophy animal or just good meat, there’s a big-game species out there for you!