Musk ox can stand 5 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh up 800 pounds. Aron Wark.
The Boone & Crockett Club record book has a new contender for the title of world-record musk ox: A 131 4/8-inch bull shot on Aug. 1, 2023, in the Canadian Arctic by Oakdale, California, hunter Aron Wark. If the preliminary score is confirmed by the club’s judging panel, Wark’s harvest will beat the current record of 130 4/8 inches, killed by Alex Therrien in 2020 in Canada’s Northwest Territory.
Wark, a 57-year-old who grew up hunting whitetail deer in his native Michigan, was on a trip with guide Sam Kapolak of Adventure Northwest near Contwoyto Lake in the Canadian Territory of Nunavut. The area has the highest and densest natural population of musk ox in the world. Wark’s hunting party spotted their first musk ox on day one from several miles away.
After that bull winded the hunters, they made a boat trip to the other side of the lake, where they spotted another bull in the distance. After a long stalk that involved a second boat ride, Wark was able to close to within 84 yards for the shot with his .338 Win-Mag.
“I had the best time of my life, even without shooting a musk ox,” Wark told Boone & Crockett. “A lot of people think this is an easy hunt, but it’s not. We covered 20 miles in a day, and it’s not flat. The walking sucks. I want to get these hard hunts out of the way before I get old.”
Musk oxen—known as Umingmaq (“the bearded one”) in Inuit—are large grazers that gather in herds of as many as 80 animals. Most closely related to goats and sheep, they can stand 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh 500 to 800 pounds.
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Their thick, shaggy coat with a warm underfur known as qiviut enables them to thrive in the Canadian Arctic, where their chief predators are grizzly bears and Arctic wolves. The Native Inuit traditionally relied on musk ox meat for food, for warm insulated sleeping mats made from their hides, and for tools and carvings made from the animal’s horn and bone. Both male and female musk oxen grow horns, but those of mature bulls are the biggest. Their name derives from the potent odor the male musk ox secretes during the rut.
In a Facebook post, Wark noted that the meat from his hunt was packed out, then flown to Yellowknife. “It was given to some families that could use it,” Wark wrote. “I was happy that way.”
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