There are no wild moose in Arizona, but that doesn't mean there wasn't an animal roaming the hills that resembled one.
The huge critter, actually a 5x4 bull elk, sported a set of horns that for unknown reasons were misshapen to resemble those of a moose.
In biological terminology, such antlers are tagged "non-typical."
The elk was downed Dec. 8, the opening morning of the final hunt season, by Payson resident Lyn Nall.
While returning to his home with the harvested elk, Null was stopped by Arizona Game and Fish officers, he said.
The officers carefully inspected and photographed the rare set of antlers.
"They said they'd never seen anything like it (the horns)," Null said.
The animal also drew widespread interest from other hunters in Unit 22 where it was taken.
"Everybody stopped and wanted to look at it," Null said.
However, no one who inspected the animal was able to provide a reason for the misshapen horns.
Local Arizona Game and Fish field supervisor Craig McMullen, theorizes there are a couple of circumstances that could have contributed to the non-typical horns.
"It could be something genetic or maybe an injury while (the horns were) in velvet," he said.
Although he is a seasoned, veteran game officer who has observed thousands of elks, McMullen said he'd never seen a set of antlers misshapen the way the animal's were.
Scott Darnell of Diamond Point Outfitters was along on the hunt with Null. The two had scouted the area where the animal was taken the day before the hunt and spotted about eight bulls, Null said.
The following day, the pair returned to the area and began their search for a good-sized elk.
Darnell was the first to spot the animal and quickly pointed out his location to Null.
With the elk running about 230 yards away on a ridge, Null misfired on his first shot attempt. After a short pause, Null dropped the animal with two more shots from his 30:06 rifle that was equipped with a Nikon 2x7 scope.
"It was exciting," Null said.
Part of the exhilaration of the hunt, Null admits, was the long wait he had before being drawn for an elk tag.
"I've been trying to obtain a permit for seven years," he said.
Although Null has harvested three other elks in neighboring states, the Arizona species was his "best ever."
The rare set of antlers, he said, will soon be mounted and put on display in his home for friends and fellow hunters to marvel.