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B&C Position Statement - Big Game Records Eligibility

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First Adopted December 6, 2014 - Revised: Jan 7, 2021

Situational Overview

The big game records of the Boone and Crockett Club are a set of wildlife and hunting data the Club began to collect over a century ago. In the late 1950s, the Club began to focus on tracking the recovery and management of big game populations in North America. Today, the records program of the Club continues to be a useful tool for measuring the successes of wildlife conservation as its measuring system provides an indicator of age and habitat conditions for many species. Having sportsmen participate in this data collection system by voluntarily submitting their trophies is vital.

Over the years, the Club has developed rules for trophy eligibility based on its desire to collect data that is valuable to game managers, biologists, lawmakers, hunters and others responsible for wildlife conservation in North America. (Click here for Big Game Records Program Policies) The Club’s requirements have gained wide acceptance, and the game laws of some federal, state and provincial agencies are based on these entry rules and the definition of Fair Chase, which is a code of ethical conduct the Club originated in 1887 that continues to be intrinsic to the mission of the Club. (Click here for the Club’s Position Statement on Fair Chase) The Club honors the animals harvested and the traditions of hunting by requiring that all trophies listed with a hunter’s name attached be taken in Fair Chase.

The relationship of the Club’s trophy entry rules to the broader principles of hunting ethics, game laws, and records programs of other organizations are not necessarily well understood. The Club regularly fields questions about whether a particular hunting method or use of technology will disqualify an entry, why conduct in the field that is legal in a state or province can still be deemed unethical by the Club, and how all this applies to records book eligibility.

Position

The Entry Affidavit of the Boone and Crockett Club is based on principles of Fair Chase and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.  The Club acknowledges that Fair Chase is a subjective term that represents a spectrum of behavior shaped by personal choice. The Entry Affidavit requirements are intended to provide a baseline for ethical hunting—not limit the concept of Fair Chase. It is up to every hunter to expand from this minimum standard and develop their own ethical code of conduct in the field. It is up to the Club to maintain a records program that is consistent with its mission and values, and ensure the consistency and integrity of the data collected. The following discussion of the Entry Affidavit provides background and/or the Club’s rationale for excluding animals harvested through the use of the following methods, techniques, technology, or conditions:
  

I. Spotting or herding game from the air, followed by landing in its vicinity for the purpose of pursuit and shooting; With the popularity of personal aircraft in the 1960s increasing and being used for hunting to access remote areas in North America, it became apparent that some hunters were using aircraft not only to reach their hunting destination, but locate their game from the air, and in the vicinity, and pursue for a shot. In some cases, hunters were using aircraft to herd game into a more accessible situation. The Club determined that this was an unfair advantage to both the game and other hunters. At the same time the Club established this policy, some states and provinces began outlawing the practice and instituting laws prohibiting hunting the same day as flying.

II. Herding or chasing with the aid of any motorized equipment;
Using motorized vehicles to access hunting areas is a common and legal practice. Taking this one step further by herding or chasing game from a vehicle and then stopping to take a shot is deemed an unfair advantage and unsportsmanlike.

III. Use of electronic communication devices (2-way radios, cell phones, etc.) to guide hunters to game, artificial lighting, electronic light intensifying devices (night vision optics), sights with built-in electronic range-finding capabilities (including smart scopes), drones/unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), thermal imaging equipment, electronic game calls, or the use of any technology that delivers real-time location data (including photos) to target or guide a hunter to any species or animal in a manner that elicits an immediate (real-time) response by the hunter.

Technological advancement in hunting equipment is a natural progression of our desire to be successful and effective in harvesting game. Some technologies take unfair advantage of an animal no matter how they are used. For others, it depends on the manner in which the hunter uses the technology.

  • The Club believes that having another person on the other end of a two-way radio or cell phone to help locate or guide a hunter to game is not Fair Chase.
     
  • Big game animals cannot be legally hunted at night in any state or province. Using any technology or device that allows hunters to see in the dark in order to harvest an animal is both illegal and unsportsmanlike.
     
  • Knowing the range to a target is a critical piece of information for the ethical harvest of big game animals. Rangefinders are a valuable and accepted tool, as are riflescopes. Combining the two into one device (aka, “smart scope”), however, is a step too far. When technology becomes a substitute for using basic skills in the field (or a hunter is simply “buying” skills), this is where technology undermines the hunting experience.
     
  • Using drones to take pictures or video, or transmitting this information live whether scouting or during a hunt takes unfair advantage over a game animal and other hunters.
     
  • It can be argued that thermal imaging equipment is helpful in recovering wounded or lost game. Using thermal imaging equipment to initially locate game for hunting, however, is not Fair Chase.
     
  • Trail cameras can be a helpful tool in game management and selective hunting. The use of any technology that delivers real-time location data (including photos) to target or guide a hunter to any animal in a manner that elicits an immediate (real-time) response by the hunter is not permitted. "Real time” is the key concept. Seeing a photo and harvesting an animal a few hours later, or even the same day, uses this technology to assure a kill. It also takes advantage of the animal, which cannot detect impending danger from a camera. Waiting several days, or even until the following season, to pursue an animal captured on camera is different, and would not be deemed an unethical use of a trail camera.
     
  • As for cameras that require hunters to physically check the photos from trail cams, the Club has no specific policy. The Club requires a hunter to follow state regulations, which are aimed at maintaining wildlife health and hunter safety.
     
  • Almost all cougars are hunted using dogs because of the considerable difficulty in locating them without dogs. In many locations dogs are also used to hunt bear. The practice is legal in many states. The Club finds that using electronic collars to ensure far-ranging dogs do not become lost is understandable and acceptable, but using electronic collars to more easily locate and access a treed bear or cougar in order to take a shot is not an appropriate use of that technology.

 

IV. Confined by artificial barriers, including escape‑proof fenced enclosures;

As stated above, the Club’s records program is a gauge of the success or failure of conservation and wildlife management policies and programs. Data kept by the Club’s records is the measurement of antler and horn growth, which is considered as an indicator of age and habitat conditions. Wildlife managers use these data to make game management decisions. As such, the scientific purity of this data is of utmost importance to managers and Club.

Artificial barriers and escape-proof fences typically mean that the animals confined within are managed by private individuals and are not free-ranging. Including data in the records books on such animals undermines the usefulness of the data to wildlife managers who are charged with overseeing the health and regulated hunting of free-ranging animals.

In addition, game species and their habitat within an enclosure can be managed or manipulated in a way that is not possible under free-range conditions. Often such manipulation is for the purpose of growing the largest antler and horn sets possible in the shortest amount of time. Including data on animals taken from enclosures creates a greater possibility of unnaturally grown or genetically-manipulated specimens skewing the data, making it worthless to game managers.

For these reasons the Club has chosen to exclude game harvested behind an artificial barrier or escape-proof fence from its records program. (Click here for the Club’s Position Statement on Canned Shoots; and its Position Statement on Genetic Manipulation)

V. Transplanted for the purpose of commercial shooting;

Animals raised in captivity and transplanted into a commercial shooting operation are ineligible for entry into the records book for the same reasons stated in Section IV. Furthermore, animals raised in captivity for use in commercial shooting operations are not truly wild, although the degree to which they have become acclimated to being around and handled by humans varies. With little to no fear of humans and little need to rely on natural survival instincts, the Club does not consider the practice of shooting such animals Fair Chase. (Click here for the Club’s Position Statement on Deer Breeding and Shooting Operations). This policy also applies to animals that have escaped from commercial shooting operations or high fence facilities. While the quick harvest of these escaped animals is encouraged by the Club to prevent disease transmission to wild populations, such animals remain ineligible for entry into the records book.

An important exception is the transport of animals (usually by a state or provincial wildlife agency) for the purpose of augmenting and existing population or reintroducing a species to a range they once occupied. These relocations can be from a captive enclosure or temporary holding facility, and animals are either released into the wild or into another temporary holding facility, and then into the wild. These relocations are to benefit a population rather than to be commercially shot. Trophies eventually taken in these situations are valid data points and integral to the analysis of these populations.

VI. By the use of traps or pharmaceuticals;

The use of traps in the fur trade and for controlling certain nuisance species is a legal and common practice in North America. The Club maintains records on two species (bear and cougar) that can be legally trapped in some states and provinces. While the Club supports the decision of a state or province to allow fur trapping and trapping as a means of predator control, the Club does not consider trapping as an appropriate means of hunting for purposes of its records books.

Using drugs to slow down or kill game is unsportsmanlike, and potentially dangerous to the people and wildlife that consume the meat. The Club considers hunting of any animal that has been rendered helpless to escape as unethical.

The use of natural food or bait, food plots, or unnatural food attractants do not affect records entry eligibility if such practices are legal in the states where the animal was harvested. The Club acknowledges that baiting is an effective game management tool used by some agencies to manage certain species and to protect human safety and property. The Club supports the authority of the state agencies to determine if and when baiting is an appropriate management tool. (Click here for the Club’s Position on Baiting).

VII. While swimming, helpless in deep snow, or helpless in any other natural or artificial medium;

When the Club was established in the late 19th century, it was a common practice to drive deer and moose to seek refuge in water, where they were easily shot from the shore or from boats or canoes. The same was true of chasing and shooting game floundering in deep snow. Both of these practices were deemed unfair chase by the Club as part of its first constitution in 1887. The Club considers hunting of any animal that has been rendered helpless to escape as unethical.

VIII. On another hunter’s license;

Party hunting and filling a tag for someone else in a hunting party is still legal in some states and provinces. Trophies taken during a party hunt where such practices are legal are eligible for the records book as they are a valid data point, though the hunter’s name will be omitted from listing in the records book.

Trophies taken by a youth hunter on another hunter’s license during a mentored/apprentice hunt are accepted into the records books for listing as long as the hunt complies with state law and meets all other eligibility requirements of the Club because they provide a valid set of data.


IX. Not in full compliance with the game laws or regulations of the federal government or of any state, province, territory, or tribal council on reservations or tribal lands;

The Club supports state, provincial, tribal, indigenous and aboriginal wildlife management authority, including the institution of game laws to protect wildlife, personal property and human safety. The Club requires that all trophies entered into its records book are taken in full compliance with all applicable laws in the jurisdiction where the trophy was harvested.

 


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