Fayette County

Lexington banker holds new state record for elk

David Giles of Lexington with the elk he bagged on Oct. 3 in Knott County.
David Giles of Lexington with the elk he bagged on Oct. 3 in Knott County. Photo provided

After 15 years of entering Kentucky’s annual lottery to hunt elk, David Giles was just happy to be picked.

The Lexington banker knew he’d bagged a pretty big animal on Oct. 3 in Knott County. Just how big wasn’t official until Monday, when it was confirmed that Giles now holds the new state record for a “non-typical” bull elk.

“My intent was to get one, but not necessarily look for a record,” Giles said. “I don’t think either I or the guide knew it was as big as it was.”

The animal had the largest antlers of any elk since they were restocked in the state in the late 1990s. But it could not be officially scored until after a 60-day drying period.

My intent was to get one, but not necessarily look for a record. I don’t think either I or the guide knew it was as big as it was.

David Giles of Lexington, who bagged a state-record ‘non-typical’ bull elk

The Giles trophy scored 3775/8 in the Boone & Crockett Club’s scoring system, besting the previous record of 372 6/8 for an elk shot in 2009 by Terrell Royalty of Harrodsburg. That animal also was taken in Knott County.

The score is the totaled measurements of the main beams, tines or points, width and mass.

The non-typical designation means the tines on the antlers weren’t symmetrical or weren’t in a typical location. Giles’ animal had nine tines on one side of its rack and eight on the other.

This year, 34,001 people submitted 70,349 applications to the state for the chance to hunt elk (an individual can submit more than one application). Each application costs $10. A random drawing is then held to select the hunters. More than 900 permits were issued this year.

Giles, 64, oversees Whitaker Bank’s operations in Fayette County. He has hunted deer and turkey but never elk until October. He shot the animal on private land with the help of outfitter and guide Hurley Combs of Somerset. “He’d heard there was a fairly big elk in there,” Giles said.

He made the shot at 322 yards with a .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 said.

Elk were native to Kentucky but disappeared in the 1840s because of unrestricted hunting and habitat loss. As part of a restoration program, more than 1,500 elk from six Western states were brought to Eastern Kentucky between 1997 and 2002.

The first state-bred elk calf was born in 1999; the first elk quota hunt happened in 2001.

Kentucky now has a herd of perhaps 10,000 animals in 16 counties, Fish and Wildlife Services spokesman Mark Marraccini said.

Could Kentucky one day have a world-record elk?

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

Kentucky’s moderate climate, lack of natural predators, nourishing habitat, and the superior genetics of the animals brought from the West all contribute to good-sized elk in the Bluegrass State, he said.

Hunting is a primary tool used by professionals use to manage wildlife populations, Marraccini said.

“We use the elk hunt to manage the herd, manage the number and keep them at a level where everybody prospers: the people who enjoy watching them, and the hunters who enjoy hunting them.”

Giles said a taxidermist plans to mount the head on top of a whiskey barrel.

He said he doesn’t know how much the bull weighed, but after field dressing and processing, he had 480 pounds of meat to distribute to various relatives.

“I’ve got it in several freezers,” Giles said. “I think we’ve got three kinds of roast: pot roast, chuck roast, rump roast. We’ve got three kinds of steak: T-bone, sirloin and ribeye. And we’ve got a lot of 1-pound bags of burger.”

He’s already eaten some of the meat. “You wouldn’t know this isn’t beef.”