And this is why there are mercenary idiots crawling out of the woodwork. I don't have any "trophy" racks, and if that was why I was hunting I would give it up. The antlers I have are not for sale, and never will be.
Sure, if I had a chance at a world-class bull I would take it (duh), and those antlers wouldn't be for sale either. The point is (as I see it) that I wouldn't be taking the shot because it's a "396 inch bull". I would be taking the shot because it's a mature elk that I have matched wits (and luck) with and came out ahead. I've passed up legal small bucks, not because they were small, but just because it was the first day of the season and I had a week of vacation time available. I've also taken does, and cherished the hunt as much as any buck I have taken.
Market hunting nearly wiped out much of the big game in North America in the 1800s, and here we go again. When there is big money associated with antlers of a specific size, wealthy idiots get into the business and snap up any lease that has produced a B&C trophy in recent history. Access to private land without high fees disappears entirely. Poaching becomes profitable. "Hunting" programs on television multiply like rats. All so someone can claim a bigger rack than someone else.
I once sat on a ridgeline with a rifle, watching a muley buck that would have gone very high in the books standing broadside at 80 yards. It's one of my most treasured hunting memories. If I had been deer hunting I'd have gladly shot him, but I was elk hunting and deer season wasn't open yet. I'd like to think I'd have made the same choice if I had known I would be able to sell that rack for big money. The point, such as it is, is that adding money into the equation potentially makes poachers out of a significant number of people who wouldn't otherwise be tempted.
The breeders work on producing bigger and bigger racks, someone makes a deal to shoot a 440" bull elk out of a corral, the story gets out and we all take a PR black eye by association. It's not just elk, either. There are a couple of African buffalo bulls on game ranches valued in eight figures for their breeding potential. Where's the line between wildlife and livestock? Give it a few decades and all the record books will be meaningless. Actually, the first time an animal resulting from a captive breeding program or highly "managed" private property, whether it was taken by fair chase or not, is entered into a record book it becomes irrelevant. Maybe that's not entirely a bad thing.
There was a time I would have loved to have my name in the B&C or P&Y books. Now, I'm not sure I would even have a really big rack officially scored. The record books don't mean the same thing they once did. All the glory hounds hunting private leases in ten or twelve states every year have made sure of that. How many "book" racks does it take before they lose the only value they really have? And what kind of person goes out and buys a set of arbitrarily large antlers? I just don't understand it.