The Boone and Crockett Club: The Hunting Record and Conservation Advocate
When most hunters think of the Boone and Crockett Club, they think of huge racks of antlers on incredible deer, elk, and other big game animals. However, the club stands for so much more. While the Boone and Crockett Club continues to gather and store big game records, it also actively promotes conservation and fair chase hunting through education and public policy. These are all things close to any hunter’s heart.
It was 152 years ago that Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell founded the Boone and Crockett Club. The oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America, the club was named after Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett – two renowned figures from the country’s frontier past. It was only fitting, as both were great hunters, woodsmen, and marksmen. Along with being savvy afield, they both had adventurous spirits and were conservation minded.
After observing a decline in North American big game, Roosevelt began a historical pursuit to change the disturbing trend. Acknowledging the mass killing of bison, a runaway system of market hunting, and western pioneer settlement, he and Grinnell formed a contingent of visionaries bent on turning the tide. With notable members like Aldo Leopold, they went on to promote legislation aimed at protecting wildlife and establishing institutions, including the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, and National Wildlife Refuge Systems. Additionally, the organization championed the earliest science-based wildlife management efforts and legislation, including the National Wildlife Refuge System Act, and the creation of the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units.
Research and Education
From its inception in 1887, the Boone and Crockett Club has sought to benefit society by protecting our wildlife and lands. It continues to use a science-based approach and employs ongoing research programs and conferences to support these precious resources.
The club operates the Elmer E. Rasmuson Wildlife Conservation Center on the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch as the hub for their conservation education efforts. The chief goal is to inspire private-sector leadership on wildlife research, education, and management. Located at the foot of the Montana Rockies, the ranch continues to serve as an effective location for conducting their natural resource maximization efforts.
Fair Chase Hunting
Today, the concept of fair chase is often a debated topic among hunters. But at its core, it’s no doubt an important and righteous set of ideals that are crucial to the wild game and landscapes of North America.
It’s important to acknowledge that the Boone and Crockett Club carved the path for it.
In fact, by the end of the 19th century, they had already gained significant momentum in promoting the “fair chase” hunting model. This model was instrumental in establishing our current game laws. In its most basic sense, fair chase represents the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit and taking of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the animal. It’s amazing that it all started over a century and a half ago.
For the Record
The club has a long-standing history of creating published works – educational compilations that cover a variety of concepts aimed at improving success in the field for big game hunters. Still, it’s the Boone and Crockett (B&C) record books that garner the most attention.
The formal records for big game in North America started in 1932 when club member Prentiss Gray established a scoring system for trophy big game animals. From the beginning, trophy records were used to attract more sportsmen into the conservation movement by encouraging the selective harvest of mature male animals, which in-turn enhanced population recovery. Used as a record book, it has progressed greatly since then and currently encompasses all 29 species of North American big game.
The Consummate Trophy Whitetail Log
There is no B&C record category more popular than that for the Whitetail Deer. In addition to the Records of North American Big Game, the B&C Club publishes the Records of North American Whitetail Deer. Now with several updated editions, the publication covers both typical and non-typical bucks and serves as eye candy for many hardcore deer hunting enthusiasts. After all, who doesn’t like to gaze at quality images of free-range whitetails netting 170-inches or more?
Like the original big game record book, it features not only the records but trophy photos, statistics, and information to assist hunters. Here, hunters can find resources such as a whitetail distribution map and resources for planning hunts to the more trophy-rich areas of North America; perfect for those in search of “Booner” bucks.
Today, the Boone and Crockett Club continues to focus on record keeping, education, conservation, advocacy, and fair chase hunting – all in support of the protection of our wildlife and the lands they roam. And it’s obviously more than a club. It’s an institution with far-reaching goals and a bevy of accomplishments under its belt.
As hunters and outdoorsmen, Boone and Crockett Club initiatives merit our support. And at an annual cost of only $35, associate membership is a great idea if you’re willing to put a little skin in the game toward sustaining these priceless resources. For doing so, you’ll get a Fair Chase Magazine subscription and discounts on club books and merchandise. Moreover, your support will ultimately help guide you on your search for your first or next “Booner” for the record books.
Based in Texas, Jerald Kopp is President of 1st Light Hunting Journal. His articles cover a variety of topics about hunting and the outdoor lifestyle. Jerald is an avid outdoorsman with deer hunting and whitetails being by far his greatest passion. He was introduced to hunting and fishing at an early age and has been enjoying it for 40+ years. In 2005, he established the Empowerment Outfitter Network (EON) – a faith-based non-profit organization that provides hunting opportunities for disabled and terminally-ill children and youth. When not hunting, he spends his time traveling and enjoying life with Amy, his wife of over 30 years. Jerald and Amy have two adult daughters and a son-in-law.