Boone and Crockett Club
by Kevin Paulson
It’s a Booner!
If you have been hunting for any significant amount of time you have heard the word “Booner” in reference to a trophy whitetail, elk or other big game animal. While The Boone and Crockett Club has been around for 127 years, most hunters only think about the North American Records Book and the chance to score a buck big enough to get in “The Book.” I first heard the word “Booner” as a teenager when a friend of the family took a magnificent muley buck in California. He went through the process of getting his buck measured and though it did not make the book, it was a spectacular buck. My quest for a “Booner” has lasted all of these years. I have not yet accomplished my goal, but I have learned a bit more about The Boone and Crockett Club and I am proud to be a B&C Associate.
Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell founded the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887. Roosevelt, after witnessing the decline of big game in North America from unrestricted market hunting, pioneer settlement of the West and the slaughter of the American Bison, was compelled to make a difference. Roosevelt and Grinnell banded together with a small group of distinguished men including General William Tecumseh Sherman, Gifford Pinchot and twenty other visionaries from all walks of life to found the club. The members created a conservation system for protecting the lands and wildlife across North America. Over the next several decades, working with members like Aldo Leopold and J. N. “Ding” Darling, the club worked to pass laws for the protection of wildlife and the establishment of the National Park Service, the United States Forest Service, National Forests, and National Wildlife Refuge Systems.
By the late 1800s, the members of the club realized they had worked hard to champion the “fair chase” hunting ethic and wanted to publish their ideals. These statements and philosophies became the foundation of our nation’s hunting and game laws. Fair Chase is 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. Fair Chase has been around since the initialization of the Boone and Crockett Club, and is just as important today as it was 127 years ago.
From the beginning, the Boone and Crockett Club sponsored education symposiums and on-going research programs, realizing that science-based decision-making would be key to developing sustainable wildlife populations throughout North America. The club has long understood that scientific research helps club members and all of society to protect our interests in wildlife and our lands, at a national level.
Boone and Crockett has a long history of publishing books. Most folks have heard of Records of North American Big Game, the definitive history of big game trophies. To date, the club has published over 37 volumes on various topics to help big game hunters become better and more knowledgeable in their pursuits afield.
In 1986, the Boone and Crockett Club purchased a working cattle ranch on the East Front of the Montana Rockies resulting in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch (TRM). The club uses the ranch to conduct habitat research and test innovative land management practices, as well as to serve as a backdrop for conservation education programs. In 2001, the club completed construction of the Elmer E. Rasmuson Wildlife Conservation Center on the TRM Ranch as the center of the Boone and Crockett Club’s Conservation Education Program. This facility will bring in the best and brightest minds to focus on natural resource education, science-based workshops, presentations and research to continue the work of the club.
The Boone and Crockett Club maintains records of native North American Big Game as a vital record. Records of North American Big Game has been around since the 1930s when the club called on member, Prentiss Gray, to establish an official measurement and scoring system for trophy animals. The first formal record book was published in 1932 and the books have evolved over the last 80 years.
Now in its 13th edition, Records of North American Big Game covers all 29 species of big game, as well as a few species that can no longer be hunted in North America. Boone and Crockett also publishes Records of North American Whitetail Deer, currently in its fifth edition, which focuses specifically on typical and non-typical, whitetail deer.
Both books are filled with quality hunting stories, trophy photos and the lists of animals taken across North America. They offer hunters a collection of statistics, reports and photos, which assist hunters to field judge animals while they are out hunting. Both books also allow hunters to research specific counties where trophy animals have been taken, providing tools that help ensure they are hunting in prime locations where “Booner” animals live and where the genetics are available to produce the trophy that a specific hunter is looking for. Additionally, Boone and Crockett created the Whitetail Distribution Map to assist hunters in locating hunting lands that are rich in quality animals. Hunters looking to take quality animals can use these resources to their advantage by spending quality time planning hunts whether hunting whitetail, Coues whitetail or another species.
Today, the Boone and Crockett Club continues to focus on record keeping, education, conservation, fair chase hunting and the protection of our lands and wildlife. The B&C Conservation Policy Team works in partnership with public policy leaders as well as congress to ensure that hunters have a voice in policy decisions.
I encourage every hunter to become an associate of the Boone and Crockett Club. Anyone can become an Associate Member; there is no need to have a trophy in the record book to join, just a desire to support fair chase hunting. Yearly associate dues of $35.00 include a subscription to the quarterly Fair Chase magazine, a 20% discount on Boone and Crockett Club books, select merchandise, a window decal and access to specific areas on the Boone and Crockett website. Organizations like The Boone and Crockett Club deserve our support.
My own quest for a “Booner” will continue year after year and I know the research and the information that I get from B&C will continue to guide me on my quest. Whether I accomplish my goal or not, I will continue to support the Boone and Crockett Club.