The Boone and Crockett Club's recent 29th Big Game Awards established several new benchmarks that event organizers say are a reflection of today's hunters' commitment to wildlife and habitat conservation, fair chase and the future of these traditions.
Record numbers of exhibited trophies, event registrants, sponsors and the more than 100,000 people who viewed these exhibits were the highlights at this triennial event that concluded July 16 at the Bass Pro Shops store in Springfield, Missouri.
"Boone and Crockett began hosting public exhibitions of big-game trophies in 1947. But I don't think we've ever seen the hunting community more passionate about helping us deliver the message that hunting success follows conservation success--and vice versa," said Club President Morrie Stevens.
The honorees in Springfield were the trophies that symbolize the success of modern wildlife conservation and management. Game herds that produce large, mature specimens reflect population health and habitat quality, and are the result of the decision sportsmen made over a century ago to conserve these precious natural resources.
Stevens said, "We know this to be true because the Club was there at the beginning of the conservation movement that arose at a time when we nearly lost many species of wildlife to extinction. As one of our keynote speakers, Shane Mahoney, said, 'If the Endangered Species Act would have been in existence in 1900, every one of the species that is in abundance today and are legally hunted would have been listed as endangered.'"
The number of records book entries has trended upward since the Club began keeping track in 1906 as a way of detailing the health of big-game species once thought headed for extinction. Once new game management and conservation practices began to pay dividends and populations recovered, these data were used to measure conservation successes, as well as point to those species in certain areas where more work needed to be done.
"Others have been trying to redefine the true meaning of trophies in recent times to represent something wrong or the bad behavior of hunters," commented Stevens. "It won't work. Proof of successful conservation and game management is everywhere, including the number of individual animals that grow to maturity. The last thing sportsmen want to do--or are doing--is hurt the wildlife populations so many have fought so hard to conserve."
Highlights from Boone and Crockett Club's 29th Big Game Awards event also included:
• Exhibition featuring 98 high-ranking trophies honored at the 29th Big Game Awards banquet emceed by Club member Craig Boddington and sponsored by Federal Premium Ammunition.
• Exhibition featuring 39 records-book specimens taken by hunters age 16 and under honored at the Jack Steele Parker Generation Next banquet sponsored by the Wild Sheep Foundation and Kimber Manufacturing.
• The #BandCAwards Instagram youth photo contest sponsored by Sitka Gear.
• The Hunt Fair Chase Award sponsored by Leupold & Stevens presented to Michael G. Swyers for his hunt that resulted in his Rocky Mountain goat scoring 55-6/8 B&C points.
• Notable new trophies and hunters in attendance:
• New World's Record pronghorn (96-4/8 from Socorro County, New Mexico) and hunter Mike Gallo.
• New No. 2 pronghorn (95-4/8 from Mohave County, Arizona) and hunter Dale Hislop.
• New World's Record Alaska-Yukon moose (266-4/8 from Lower Yukon River, Alaska).
• New No. 2 Alaska-Yukon Moose (263-5/8 from Yukon River, Yukon Territory)
• New Pope and Young World's Record and B&C No. 6 woodland caribou (377-6/8 from Middle Ridge, Newfoundland) and hunter Jeffery K. Samson.
• New Jersey state record black bear (22-9/16 from Warren County) and hunter Timothy P. Justnes.
• Oklahoma state record black bear (20-9/16 from Pushmataha County) and youth hunter Kaylin S. Russell.
• No. 2 grizzly bear (27-6/16 from Nageethluk River, Alaska) and hunter Shane C. Swiderski.
• No. 3 Shiras' moose from Colorado (192 from Park County) and hunter Robert S. Hebert.
• No. 5 desert sheep (195-3/8 from Socorro County, New Mexico).
• No. 4 bison from Wyoming (131-6/8 from Teton County) and hunter Patrick J. Mowrey.
The trophies of the 29th Big Game Awards will be on display at the Springfield Bass Pro Shops store until the end of July.
Event sponsors included the Wild Sheep Foundation, Federal Premium Ammunition, Dallas Safari Club, DNZ Products, Americase, Weatherby, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Buck Knives, Kimber Manufacturing, the Mule Deer Foundation, Yellowstone Press, and the Guides and Outfitters Association of British Columbia, Bear Trust International, Yellowstone Press, Leupold & Stevens, Yeti Coolers, Book Your Hunt, and Sitka Gear.
In October, the Club will release its corresponding records book, Boone and Crockett Club's 29th Big Game Awards. The newest edition in this series will feature over 4,000 new Boone and Crockett qualifying trophies entered and accepted during the 29th awards period (2013-2015) in 37 different categories of North American big game, from whitetail to walrus.