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Boone and crockett club press releases

The Club's Outreach and Publications divisions strive to keep you informed of the latest news that affects our wildlife and the traditions of hunting. Below is a list of Boone and Crockett Club press releases.

ATTN Outdoor Media Resources: For more information on Boone and Crockett Club press releases and publicity opportunities, or to be added to our press list, contact Steve Wagner, Blue Heron Communications at 800‑654‑3766 or steve@blueheroncomm.com.


Trail Blazers In Conservation The Boone and Crockett Club's First Century - September 18, 2014
Long Shots: Fad or Trend? - August 11, 2014
The Birth of the Fair Chase and the Teddy Bear - August 11, 2014


Trail Blazers In Conservation The Boone and Crockett Club's First Century
September 18, 2014
By GEORGE B. WARD AND RICHARD E. MCCABE
The story of the Boone and Crockett Club is one of sportsmen dedicated individually and collectively to the art and traditions of the hunt and to the "preservation" of game animals. It is a chronicle of high-caliber hunting, politics, programs, and people. It is the very track of the conservation movement in North America. It is a 127-year history of accomplishment.

The Club had its formal beginning in New York City, on a December evening in 1887. Eleven men, each a sportsman and energetic and influential person, gathered at a dinner party called by one of their number and heard a proposal to form a fellowship chartered to enhance camaraderie through their mutual interest in hunting and wildlife. But the proposal had an even broader objective, to address and work to resolve nationwide problems that jeopardized game animal populations. The dinner guests heartily endorsed the idea, and a brief constitution was drafted.

The Yellowstone Preserve

That the Boone and Crockett Club was more than an excuse for its membership to share brandy, cigars, and hunting tales was evident from the start. At the Club's first formal meetings, the members initiated action to save Yellowstone National Park (the nation's first national park) from poachers, speculators, and other interests that threatened the Park's pristine condition. "Resolved that a committee of 5 be appointed by the chair to promote useful & proper legislation toward the enlargement & better Government of the Yellowstone Natl Park." A single resolution, in a single sentence, but it marked the beginning of the Boone and Crockett Club's conservation crusade.

Among the "committee of 5" was George Bird Grinnell. If Theodore Roosevelt was the heart and soul of the Boone and Crockett Club, Grinnell was its brain and backbone. In correspondence in 1926, Charles Sheldon wrote to a fellow Club member: "The Boone and Crockett Club has been George Bird Grinnell from its founding--all its books, its works, its soundness have been due to his unflagging work and interest and knowledge."

Author, publisher, ethnologist, naturalist, and sportsman, Grinnell was editor of the national magazine Forest and Stream. For a number of years before the advent of the Boone and Crockett Club, Grinnell used the magazine to espouse "conservation" causes. In fact, the modern connotation of conservation is thought by some historical researchers to have originated with Grinnell, in 1884.

Grinnell first visited the West in 1870, accompanying Yale University paleontologist Othniel C. Marsh on a geological expedition. In 1874, Grinnell was a civilian member of General George Armstrong Custer's "survey" expedition into the Black Hills. A year later, he was with Captain William Ludlow's U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' reconnaissance of the Yellowstone region.

In the course of his western travels, Grinnell became acquainted with a number of the notable frontier personalities of the day, including Charley Reynolds, "Buffalo Bill" Cody, and Frank and Luther North. From them, and through his eyewitness and insight, Grinnell gained understanding and deep appreciation for the grandeur and bounty of the western landscape, and he developed an equally profound concern for the protection of those values and vitality in the face of unrestrained national growth and expansion. He wrote in 1890:

"Almost within the life of Forest and Stream [founded in 1873] we have seen the wave of settlement roll from this side of the Missouri on to the West, until it broke against the mountains of the main range and then dividing into streams, creep by canyon, pass and river valley, up onto the arid plateau of the central region. As the crest of this wave advanced it blotted out the buffalo, the antelope, the elk and the deer. While it is, perhaps, not true to say that the days of big-game hunting in the Western country are over, it is a fact that large game now exists only in isolated localities, and that such localities are so surrounded by settlements that the game cannot get away; its migration to wilder regions is no longer possible."

Yellowstone National Park symbolized to Grinnell the collision of civilization and wilderness. The consequence he saw of that instance was not merely a process of taming and incorporation, but an act of ecological violence and compromise of human as well as natural values. Yellowstone became his cause.

In great measure because of George Bird Grinnell's forceful involvement in the Yellowstone Park issue long before the Boone and Crockett Club was formed, the matter helped to marshal enthusiasm for creation of the Club and then to serve as impetus and bond for the organization during its formative years. In fact, it was in the midst of the Yellowstone controversy that the Club's leading forces were first brought together.

On July 2, 1885, Forest and Stream printed a review by Grinnell of Theodore Roosevelt's book Hunting Trips of a Ranchman. It was a generally positive critique and complimented the author's fresh style. However, Grinnell also pointed out some shortcomings in the narrative, which were attributed to the author's somewhat limited experience as a rancher and westerner. Roosevelt, concerned about the apparent condescension of some of Grinnell's words, went to Grinnell's office to face his critic. That meeting prompted a long and fruitful friendship between the two men. With the younger Roosevelt, Grinnell shared his understanding and perspectives on the serious and fragile stature of America's wildlife. In Roosevelt, Grinnell found an aggressive and politically mobile ally for his conservation crusade.

Indeed, Yellowstone National Park was threatened from its very beginning (March 1872) when President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Organic Act that created it as the first national park, ". . . a pleasuring ground for the people." It was "set aside" to protect the area's wondrous features and unique phenomena: spewing geysers, bubbling cauldrons of colored mud, exotic mineral structures, and awesome scenery. Concern for Yellowstone's forests and wildlife came later.

In 1872, Yellowstone Park was distant and remote from the civilizing hubs of the young nation. By the end of 1883, however, the Northern Pacific Railway brought the world to Yellowstone's northern entrance. Many of the first visitors were the merely curious. Others came to exploit. The Park's minerals, timber, and wildlife, particularly big game, were vulnerable to the freebooters. Although the U.S. Secretary of the Interior was authorized to regulate the Park, he was not given practicable means to enforce protective regulations. With the arrival of the railroad and its myriad and diversely motivated passengers in 1883, the Secretary of War was empowered to send U.S. Army troops to enforce the Park regulations. This came about at the urging of General Philip Sheridan (later a Club member), who visited the Park in 1882 and saw that its management was untenable. Sheridan's call for military involvement was strongly and widely supported in a three-page article in the January 1883 issue of Grinnell's Forest and Stream magazine.

Still, it was three years before a contingent of the U.S. First Cavalry, under Captain Moses Harris, arrived to impose order and restraint. As the new Park superintendent, Harris pursued his mandate vigorously, but even so, his authority was too tightly circumscribed and transparent. Profiteering sawyers hacked away at the Park's forests; market hunters easily poached Yellowstone's wintering herds of bison, elk, and pronghorn; souvenir seekers and commercial vendors vandalized the resplendent mineral deposits; sightseers wantonly defaced the Park's geysers and rock formations; and neophyte campers' unattended fires charred vast tracts of the landscape. Yet, in most cases, offenders could only be expelled from the Park. No serious legal steps were available to impose sufficient punishment, even for grievous damage, to serve as a deterrent for unlawful acts. Regulation enforcers could do little more than verbally chastise and temporarily expel the few violators they were able to track down in the expansive Park.

General Sheridan made several other significant contributions to the process of protecting the Park. First, he put forth the idea that the Park should be expanded significantly (by 3,344 square miles), primarily to create an additional preserve for game animals. Secondly (and most important) he interested U.S. Senator George Vest of Missouri (also, later, a Club member) in the Park's cause.

Over the next several years, Vest put forth bills in Congress to expand the Park, give Park rules and regulations the force of law, limit concessionaire privileges and monopolies, and provide for a fully salaried staff (with deputy marshal authority) to manage the Park. Although most of Vest's proposed legislation failed to get full support of or action in the House of Representatives, the Senator was able to prevent commercial enterprises from securing monopolies that, under the guise of Park management, maintenance, or improvement, threatened to deplete the Park's presumably protected resources. Vest did succeed in attaching a rider on the Sundry Civil Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 1884, which permitted the detailing of troops to the Park to prevent unlawful trespassing and other violations.

Among those who lobbied and otherwise sought to override constraints on exploitation of the Park resources and prospects was the Northern Pacific Railroad. For nearly a decade since its spidery line of tracks had been laid across the northern plains to the Park boundary, railroad officials had attempted to gain a right-of-way through the Park, but they were repeatedly denied. In 1892, they sought to achieve their goal deviously. The railroad lobby prompted a bill in Congress to return part of Yellowstone National Park to the public domain. The "Segregation Bill," as it was called, would have withdrawn more than 600 square miles from the Park, including some of its most critical big game habitat. Once that area was withdrawn from Park status, the railway company then could apply, under the Railroad Act of 1862, to acquire the land, or a significant portion of it, at no cost to construct a railway that would be financed by government loans. (From 1852 to 1890, the federal and state governments granted more than 116 million acres to western railroads and advanced them $64 million in bonds.) In 1852, there were 5 miles of rail west of the Mississippi River; by 1890, rail lines wended over more than 72,000 miles in the West.

Boone and Crockett Club members, and Grinnell's Forest and Stream, had long opposed giving railroads a right-of-way through Yellowstone National Park, and Northern Pacific's new strategy was resisted as well. A pamphlet by Grinnell concerning the Park and its crises was distributed to newspapers nationwide in an attempt to inform the American people and stir public protest. Despite the concern and efforts of the Club and its members, the Segregation Bill passed the Senate in February 1893. It failed in the House, however, when Grinnell's Forest and Stream printed a telegram from railroad lobbyist P. J. Barr to Montana democrats that asked them to exert pressure on the Speaker of the House. Grinnell's revelation of the railroaders' pork barrel shenanigans, and a stinging editorial, ended (at least temporarily) the Segregation Bill's chances of passing.

Public awareness of the Park depredations and Northern Pacific's encroachment scheme was enhanced, and public opinion was galvanized, by a sequence of events beginning the next year. In October of 1893, Park superintendent George S. Anderson noted that bison were concentrated in the Park's Pelican Creek area. He cautioned his skilled civilian scout, Felix Burgess, that the herd might attract the attention of poachers and that Burgess should carefully patrol the area.

The following March, while scouting on skis in deep snow in that area, Burgess and a trooper discovered the heads of six freshly killed bison. Moving on, the two men heard shots. From the top of a slope covered with lodgepole pines, they caught sight of someone bending over a fallen bison. Burgess recognized the man as Ed Howell, a notorious poacher, busily removing the bison's head and hide. Howell's rifle was propped against another nearby carcass. Armed only with a .38 caliber service revolver, Burgess was separated from Howell by a 400-yard wide snowfield. Howell was well-known for his criminal activity and propensity for violence. He was also much better armed than Burgess, but Burgess seized the opportunity to capture the poacher literally red-handed. Skiing down the slope as quickly and quietly as possible, he actually was able to "get the drop" on an astounded Howell.
The telling of this dramatic incident in Forest and Stream was a national sensation that focused public attention and outcry on the serious plight of Yellowstone's wildlife. Grinnell had sent a reporter, Emerson Hough, to Yellowstone for the winter. And as luck would have it, Hough and famed western photographer F. Jay Haynes were able to record, in word and photo images, this vivid scene and others that dramatically documented the jeopardy of the Park's wintering herds of big game.

Forest and Stream made clear in its coverage of the story that the government had been grossly negligent in not providing any legal or administrative means to punish criminal activity within the Park. Superintendent Anderson could confiscate the heads and hides, burn Howell's camp and supplies, and take away his weapons. But, in Anderson's own words, "There is no law governing this park except the military regulations. There is no punishment that can be inflicted on this low-down fellow."

Grinnell's editorial volleys that accompanied and followed Hough's expose urged form and substance to the public outrage. "We suggest that every leader who is interested in the Park or in natural history, or in things pertaining to America, should write to his Senator or Representative, asking them to take a personal interest in the protection of the Park."
Conservation historian James B. Trefethen detailed what then occurred. "The national press picked up the cry, and the [public] response was overwhelming. Petitions and individual letters by the hundreds poured into Congress--from sportsmen and nature lovers, from people who had visited the park, and from people who hoped to visit it. The American people for the first time [author's emphasis] had begun to realize that they owned a national park, and they were determined to keep it."

A week after Hough's article was printed in Forest and Stream, U.S. Congressman John F. Lacey of Iowa (a Boone and Crockett Club member) introduced legislation much like the bills Senator Vest had repeatedly brought to the Senate. With the firestorm of publicity generated by coverage of the Howell case, Lacey's "Act to Protect the Birds and Animals in Yellowstone National Park" moved swiftly through legislative channels and was signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on May 7, 1894. The persistent vigilance of the Boone and Crockett Club and, in particular, charter member George Bird Grinnell, had paid off handsomely.

The Yellowstone Park Protection Act (the "Lacey Act of 1894") finally gave Park administrators some real power and authority. The law saw to it that a representative of the United States Circuit Court was established in the Park itself, with U.S. marshals on hand to arrest those who violated park regulations. No birds, fish, or mammals could be taken from the Park. Penalties for killing game, or removing timber or mineral deposits, included substantial fines and jail sentences of up to two years. The best symbol of changes brought about by the Lacey Act was a jail built in the Park, to incarcerate those who violated regulations.

Interestingly, Ed Howell was not prosecuted for his poaching, because his violation clearly was ex post facto. Nevertheless, the incident served notice that subsequent criminality in the Park would not be taken lightly.

The long-range significance of the Lacey Act of 1894, which certainly owed its promulgation to Boone and Crockett Club members, was that it firmly established the legal precedent, policy, and overall administrative structure that would govern Yellowstone and all subsequent U.S. national parks. As Trefethen noted, the Act was the benchmark for laws and policies the National Park Service has used to administer national parks and preserves since that agency's inception in 1916.

But for the unflagging devotion of Boone and Crockett Club members such as Sheridan, Vest, Grinnell, Lacey, and others, there would be no Yellowstone Park as we know it today. Of the Yellowstone Park Protection Act, Grinnell wrote in 1910, "It may fairly be said that since then [1894] that great reservation has never been exposed to any special dangers.

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Long Shots: Fad or Trend?
August 11, 2014
By Wayne van Zwoll
Distances that test rifles exceed those that test marksmanship-and leave killing to chance.

In 1066 the bow and arrow helped the Normans trounce the English. For centuries thereafter the longbow defended that realm and extended its boundaries. Royal edicts required men to become archers. Fines were levied on citizens who failed to hone their skills-at distance! The bow made the spear, pike and sword less relevant. An army bled by arrows beyond pike's reach lost both its strength and its will. In 1542 an English act dictated that no man 24 years or older might shoot at any mark "less than 11 score distance." That's 200 meters! In battle, bodkins rained in steep arcs onto the backs of cavalry horses and the light shoulder armor of footmen. Powered by 100-pound bows, the steel drove through chain-mail and plate. The longbow was truly a long-range weapon!

Early firearms didn't match the longbow's reliability or reach, and their rate of fire was glacial. Not until five centuries after the English loosed half a million shafts at Crecy did accurate caplock rifles come to market in North America. Breechloaders by Sharps and Browning (Winchester), with Remington Rolling Blocks, replaced the Hawken on the plains and stretched competition to 1,000 yards. Smokeless powder, jacketed bullets and optical sights later increased precision at distance.

Hunters and soldiers alike have benefited. At this writing, the longest rifle shot made against an enemy is held by an Australian sniper. He made the killing hit in Afghanistan in 2012. A GPS unit gauged the range at 2,815 meters, or 3,079 yards. The shooter is "unknown" because he and a fellow sniper fired at the Taliban commander simultaneously. One bullet struck.

Having fired at targets a mile off, I'm awed by this shot. At 1,760 yards, you can barely afford a minute-of-angle error on a target 18 inches wide. Make that half a minute at 3,000 yards. A puff of breeze so light it won't shiver an aspen leaf can push your shot wide. The range must be known almost exactly, too, as the arc of a descending bullet is so steep a mile away that an error of a few yards will cause a miss.

While soldiers and target shooters try for center hits, a near miss ordinarily earns partial credit. A shot that sends an enemy into cover or injures him, like a bullet that hits the 9-ring, has some redeeming value. But the sport hunter draws a penalty for a shot that strikes an animal but misses the vitals. He must follow to finish the beast, which may suffer pain and a slow death. Delayed recovery often results in meat spoilage. Crippling hits undermine the biological defense of sport hunting. Lost game begs an apology as collateral damage. Hunting practices that hike the probability or rate of crippling run counter to any view of sportsmanship. All else equal, close shots kill more surely. Odds for poor hits increase with yardage.

A gaggle of gremlins hides far downrange. An animal stricken by your first shot has more escape options at distance, because it can more quickly put itself beyond killing range and because you'll have a harder time sifting it from cover for a fast follow-up shot. You'll burn more time reaching and finding the place where the animal took the hit. And distance affects your bullet, draining its speed and energy. Low impact velocity means less violent, less complete bullet upset. The closer that bullet gets to the commonly accepted floor for reliable expansion (1,600 to 1,800 fps), the less damage it will cause.

Powerful rifles and optics tempt hunters to shoot far. Years ago, guiding an elk hunter, I spied a fine bull out yonder. We hurried in a long arc that put us in aspens 350 yards up-ridge from the herd. As the animals were milling, with the bull in and out of cover, I stopped to let them settle. Odds for a close approach were excellent. Alas, while I set up my spotting scope, the blast of my client's .300 Weatherby split the silence. He had fired offhand. At that distance, he was as likely to center that bullet in the lungs as I am to throw a 100-mph fastball. Scant blood and a dragging hoof told us the trail would be long. We lost the blood. For three days we searched, and found nothing. That shot may not have been too long for the rifle or the load, but it was too long for the shooter.

When rifles, loads and optics get labeled "long-range," some hunters expect kills there regardless of conditions or their own level of marksmanship. An F-22 fighter plane has a ceiling and aerial combat capabilities built into its engine, electronics and profile. But only a fool would fire it up without training. A Stradivarius won't get you into the New York Philharmonic if you've never used a violin. Skills matter.

So do conditions. I once declined a shot at a very fine whitetail buck as it ghosted through a cut in a stand of timber. My .280 Improved could easily have made the 250-yard shot, and I was slinged up in a steady sit. But the deer wouldn't stop walking. So the shot was too long.

Another time, after hours tracking a mule deer across alpine basins, I spied the giant buck just 70 yards away. But a gale had come up, driving snow ahead of it. As the deer was looking at me, I couldn't move to sit. Offhand, I swayed like a palm in a typhoon. So the shot was too long.

In Namibia, hard on the trail of eland bulls, two of us came upon the animals in usual fashion, one bright brown eye boring through a screen of thorn at 90 yards. I made out a shoulder. "That bullet will get through," urged my pal. But deflection was a real threat. So the shot was too long.

My rule of thumb: If under prevailing conditions I can center the vitals nine times in ten tries, the animal is close enough. Otherwise, it isn't.
While "long" is by all logic relative, novice hunters chronically rate shot difficulty with distance. To this crowd, a 500-yard kill is a signal achievement, while close pokes rate no respect. This is a simple-minded view. Prone, with good gear and still air, I'll whack melon-size steel all day at 600 yards. Hitting with haste offhand after a climb, when the target is a wedge of rib in tight timber--now that's hard!

Predictably, the urge to make long shots easier follows the definition of a long shot as difficult. A shooter who can regularly bring off what's a rare accomplishment for others feeds his ego. So the race for more sophisticated rifles, ammo and optics is hardly a surprise. Ironically, it can prove a liability afield. In Weatherby's Mark V rifle line, the .30-378 Accumark is a top seller. This fire-breathing round hurls 180-grain ballistic tips at 3,420 fps. They reach 500 yards clocking 2,470. That's faster than 180-grain .300 Savage bullets leave the muzzle! But the .30-378 is thunderous and hits you with flinch-inducing recoil. Ammo costs more than a ticket to the Super Bowl. Few hunters who carry this leggy magnum afield are truly skilled with it. Sure, the Accumark ranks among the F-22s of rifles. Affix a scope whose elevation dial matches the .30-378's arc, and hits are possible to the edge of the earth. Still, marksmanship matters!

Long-shooting is instructive. It can leave you with a better sense of bullet arc and drift. It can help you sift bullet types and loads. But you learn only when you can see hits--as on paper or steel. Firing at game beyond sure-kill range seems to me more entertainment than education.

Even for the self-absorbed, there's reason for getting close to kill: It's more satisfying. The skills you tap stalking game have more to say about you as a hunter than does a long launch from a bipod. The risk of each step stacks tension as you stalk. Reward builds with risk. Intimacy comes at whisper range: grass hissing against the animal's leg, a twig breaking under its step, the mirror of its eye showing more than reflected light, muscle twitches warding off flies. You share none of that through glass at distance.

When someone boasts of killing from afar, I'm tempted to console him: "Cheer up; you'll get closer next time." It's a valid view. Shooting long can indeed suggest you lack the initiative or the skills to narrow the gap. Of course, the closer you get, the more often you'll fail. Memorable hunts wouldn't exist if all hunts were easy.
In Wyoming once, I spied a fine pronghorn buck. As he was pestering a doe, I crawled within 150 yards undetected. There my sparse cover ran out. But though I'd made tougher shots with iron sights, I'd set 100 yards as today's limit. Bellying over bare sand took long minutes. I killed the buck at exactly 100 steps. Though a shot at 150 would likely have succeeded, I'd have missed the best part of that adventure!

Fad or trend? Long-range shooting--firing at targets beyond the point-blank range of a practical zero--has profited the firearms industry. It has spawned new products, new competitive games, a growing market. It helps hunters hone marksmanship. It can bring game to bag without ethical transgression. But the long poke reflects your values as a hunter. Killing always with the first shot, you needn't explain away any decision to fire, close or far. Distance is just one element of a shot. If under prevailing conditions you can center the vitals nine times in ten tries, you'll never have to concede that a shot was too long.
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The Birth of the Fair Chase and the Teddy Bear
August 11, 2014
Of all of the well-documented hunting exploits of President Theodore Roosevelt, it is ironic that the most famous of his storied adventures was an unsuccessful black bear hunt in the swamps of Sharkey County, Mississippi.

On November 14, 1902, Roosevelt traveled from the White House to Mississippi to settle a border dispute between Mississippi and Louisiana. While there, he went on a hound-hunting trip in the Yazoo Delta. Noted as a hellish place to hunt with dense briars and endless swamps, the hosts for the hunt were concerned for the Presidents safety. Much to Roosevelts disappointment, they insisted to have him stay in camp until a bear was treed or at bay. Roosevelts omission from the actual chase was unsettling to a man who prided himself on living the hardy life the tougher the hunt, the better.

Once the guides and hounds had exhausted a small bear after a long chase, the other hunters tied a rope around the bears front end, dragged him out of the mud hole he was using to escape the dogs, tied him to a tree, and sent for the President. When Roosevelt arrived on the scene, he refused to kill the defenseless bear.

The next day, political cartoonist Clifford Berryman drew a cartoon showing Roosevelt refusing to hurt the helpless bear. The cartoon's caption "Drawing the Line in Mississippi" referred to both the border dispute settlement and the hunting incident.

This cartoon sparked the imagination of the country and of a shopkeeper in Brooklyn, New York, who asked his wife to make two plush stuffed bears for display in his shop's window. The popularity of the novelty critters quickly caught fire. To link the stuffed bear phenomenon with Roosevelt, the shop owner asked the President for permission to call his creation "Teddy's Bear." Roosevelt said yes, and the Teddy Bear was born.

To the benefit of the hunting and conservation of our wildlife resources, as well as our hunting heritage, something else was also born in this Mississippi swamp. By not caving in to the common practice of the time, a president with an inborn passion for the hunt itself defined the rules of ethical engagement. On his own, self-imposed terms, Roosevelt later finished the hunt as a more active participant in the chase, forever defining the concept of fair chase.

Having already formed the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887, Roosevelt was now searching for a way to separate legitimate hunting that was wrongfully being associated with commercial market hunting, which had no code of ethical conduct, just killing the most by the easiest and most affective means possible. Roosevelt was also looking for a way to draw more sportsmen of that era into the conservation movement. The concept of true sportsmanship through the tenets of fair chase provided this separation from for market slaughter and united more sportsmen for conservation. This same sportsmans code would later become the foundation for the game laws we have to this day.



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