Myths, lies and old wives’ tales loom large in the outdoor pursuits. Here at MeatEater, we’re dedicated to separating facts from bullsh*t, so we created this series to examine suspect yarns. If there’s a belief, rumor, or long-held assumption you’d like us to fact check, drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to multiple Facebook pages, Cam Hanes shot a caribou-elk hybrid with his bow in Alaska.
“With DNA testing finally complete, and approved confirmation from a special Alaskan Wildlife Research Team, we are super excited to announce the first ever caribou/elk crossbreed harvested by none other than our good buddy Cameron Hanes last October while hunting mountain caribou in Alaska,” a recent Facebook post from Non-Typical Nation reads. “There’s been so much anticipation to announce this but confidentiality was required while the Research Team studied this never-before-seen species. As a first of its kind, Alaskan authorities are allowing Cameron Hanes to name this newly discovered species.”
The picture first surfaced on Hoyt Archery’s Facebook page on April 1, 2017. It has been making rounds on the Internet ever since, showing up on social media platforms, forums, and blogs every month. On Facebook alone, it’s been shared 10,000 times and is estimated to have reached 3 million people.
The publishing date of Hoyt’s picture should tell you everything you need to know—this was an April Fools’ Day joke. And according to deer biologist Jim Heffelfinger, a caribou-elk hybrid isn’t possible.
“They are way too far apart,” Heffelfinger said. “They’re in completely different subfamilies of the deer family Cervidae. Elk can hybridize with sika deer, hog deer, and other species in the genus Cervus, but could never hybridize with caribou.”
The photoshopping on this picture is so damn good that it’s been getting people to ignore the obvious red flags for over three years now. Although we like a good mythical creature (see our gnome shirt series and coverage of Bigfoot), this is one photo we’d like to see extirpated from the Internet.
Feature image via Hoyt Archery.