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I’m in: Becoming an Official Boone and Crockett Scorer

 

            I had tremendous four days in Missoula, Montana attending the Boone and Crockett Measurer’s class. We were instructed, in great detail, in the proper methods of scoring 38 categories of North American big game. Learning to score was a highlight, but it certainly wasn’t the emphasis of the intense pow-wow. A branch of B&C keeps records of big game horn, antler, skull and tusk measurements, but the clubs primary purpose and influence has been in habitat management and conservation of big game as a renewable resource. B&C is the oldest hunting/conservation organization in North America – the big brother of conservation.

            Started in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt, the club was the first organization to introduce ideas of fair chase and hunting ethics into the culture. Roosevelt is known as our “conservation president”. While in office he is credited with protecting 230,000,000 acres through national parks, national forests and wildlife refuges. When they started the club, the founders, including such men as George Bird Grinnell and Alford Pinchot (founder of the U.S. Forrest Service), foresaw the demise of North America’s big game. The club was actually putting together a collection of horns as an exhibit in fear that they would be lost all together. What they did worked.

            Today the idea of fair chase, wildlife management and abiding by the “unwritten law” (hunting ethics) has deeply infiltrated our hunting culture. It’s here because of B&C.

grizzly bear skull 2

            The records program is designed to be a scientific record, thus giving indication of population dynamics and habitat of a region by its ability to produce prime male specimens of a specific species. The idea was that areas with poor habitat and unhealthy animals wouldn’t produce older male animals in good heath, displaying horn characteristics in line with the norm of that species. The B&C scoring system, in every category, is designed to give credit to older animals that are pristine representations of the species.

            Many people don’t understand the concept of deductions in the B&C and Pope and Young scoring systems. Abnormal characteristics in antler/horn development are usually a sign of biological stress. Remember, B&C is a conservation organization keeping a scientific record with an emphasis on quality habitat, not a group trying to keep up with the fades and desires of the hunting’s pop-culture.

            Another interesting fact I learned while in Missoula was in regards to “trophy hunting”. This is a pretty unpopular word, particularly amongst non-hunters, though most would agree that targeting the largest horned or skulled animal is the goal of most of us. Most people, however, don’t realize that “trophy hunting” helped save North America’s big game. B&C introduced and quantified the idea of a trophy with the intent to take the pressure off the females and young. They encouraged people to harvest older, mature males that had already made their contribution to the gene pool…genius.

            This was during a time when no hunting regulations existed. The massive slaughter of big game by commercial hunters was almost to the point of no return. They needed a way to incentivize hunters taking older males. What better way than to start keeping a record book? Americans have always loved their names being in record books, right? This was just a positive by-product of record keeping, not the full intent.

            On a personal level, becoming an official Boone and Crockett scorer is the fulfillment of a longtime goal. I’ve always loved records and felt it was important for hunters to buy into the causes of these important organizations and be active participants through membership and entering trophies into the books. The truth is, hunting, as we know it today, wouldn’t be here if it hadn’t been for men with foresight like Roosevelt, Grinnell and Leopold (and others).

            The work isn’t done and we now face big challenges in the hunting community, primarily in the form of habitat loss through urban sprawl and the anti-hunting agenda. Sport hunting has never caused an extinction of any species and we are the biggest financial supporter of wildlife conservation on the planet.  We are the good guys that have deep respect and appreciation for wildlife.  We are the ones with an action record of helping wildlife - and the world needs to know this. Show your support of hunting and conservation by becoming a member of the Boone and Crockett Club and other conservation organizations. 

Clay Newcomb

Publisher, BHM