Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

History of the Boone and Crockett Club

Pioneers of Conservation, Our Legacy for Generations:

The Boone and Crockett Club’s history is a 130-year long tale of measured and thoughtful commitment to wild land and wildlife conservation. This commitment balances human and wildlife needs and sees deep value in preserving the hunting tradition. It’s a commitment shaped by visionaries and a common-sense, science-based approach to natural resource management. It’s an effort that has saved many wildlife species from extinction and it’s considered one of our nation’s greatest accomplishments.

It all started in the late-1800s when unrestricted market hunting, irresponsible land-use practices, pioneer settlement in the West, and Native American/government conflict devastated North America’s big game populations. At that time a national conscience opposing the destruction of natural resources was in its infancy. Theodore Roosevelt saw this wildlife decimation firsthand on trips to the Dakotas, Montana Territory, and the Yellowstone area between 1883 and 1886. This prompted him to protect and restore America’s wild lands and he did so with characteristic zeal. Founding the Boone and Crockett Club in 1887 was his first step. 

Working with Club members George Bird Grinnell, Madison Grant, Gifford Pinchot, and 20 other visionaries—including outdoor sports enthusiasts, scientists, military and political leaders, explorers, artists, writers and industrialists—Roosevelt laid a foundation for the world's greatest conservation system.

Over several decades the Club initiated legislation for the first national parks, including Yellowstone, Glacier, Denali, and Grand Canyon. In addition it pushed for the earliest science-based wildlife management legislation, which resulted in the Timberland Reserve Bill, the Yellowstone Protection Act, the Lacey Act, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and protective Alaska game laws. The Club also pushed for wildlife conservation funding, which created the Federal Duck Stamp Act and the Wildlife Restoration Act (known as the Pittman-Robertson Act). The Club also initiated and championed all of our principle federal land management agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Club also helped form key conservation organizations, including the New York Zoological Society, the National Audubon Society, the Wildlife Management Institute, the National Wildlife Federation, Ducks Unlimited, and American Wildlife Conservation Partners.


This cartoon was hastily drawn by Ding Darling and called attention to unsportsmanlike hunting methods that decimated the Florida Key’s deer populations. In June 1952, the Boone and Crockett Club hired a full-time game warden to protect its remaining deer. In 1957 Congress authorized the establishment of the National Key Deer Refuge.

Key to these successes, the Club also championed a “Fair Chase” hunting ethic in the late-1800s. The Club’s “Fair Chase” philosophy influenced game laws throughout North America and continues to do so today. In addition, the Club created the first big game scoring and data collection system to objectively measure and evaluate the health and habitat quality of North American big game populations, while improving state and federal management of those animals.

The Club continues to sponsor numerous research programs and countless symposia, and supports the continued growth of America's conservation system. One enduring example is a Club-supported timber wolf/moose study on Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park. This on-going study is recognized as the definitive work on predator-prey relationships and helped remove the Eastern timber wolf from endangered status while changing the public’s perception of wolves. This work exemplifies the Club’s long-term investment in the future of America’s natural resources, including on-going programs to sustain wildlife populations.

Hunter and Conservation Ethics

Champions of Fair Chase

The Boone and Crockett Club promotes outdoor ethics for all people, emphasizing shared use of natural resources that protect opportunities for future generations. One major focus is protecting wildlife habitat on public and private lands, and the associated outdoor recreational experiences that are found on those properties.

Fair Chase, as defined by the Club, is the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner that doesn’t give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage. Fair Chase extends beyond the hunt, too, making it the very core of a conservation ethic that extends to all who enjoy wildlife and wild lands and make use of those resources.

Fair Chase is the Boone and Crockett philosophy and has been so since the beginning. This makes the club the longest standing organization to champion Fair Chase in North America. The hunting and game laws recognized today—from Alaska to Alabama, from New Mexico to New Brunswick, and all places between—are a result of the statement, philosophies and efforts of the Boone and Crockett Club. 

The National Collection of Heads and Horns, Cirica 1910

The National Collection of Heads and Horns, circa 1910. The Collection was established in 1906 and dedicated "In the Memory of the Vanishing Big Game of the World." The Collection was originally housed at the Bronx Zoo and is currently at the National Wildlife Museum and Aquarium in Sprinfield, Missouri.

Big Game Records Keeping and North American Big Game

The Club maintains the records of native North American big game as a vital conservation record, and uses that information to assess wildlife management programs.

In the 1920s, in response to public interest generated by the Club's National Collection of Heads and Horns, and increased hunting by the general public, the Club called on member Prentiss Gray to establish an official measurement and scoring system for evaluating big-game trophy quality. The Collection of Heads and Horns and the measurement system were initially conceived to record North American big game species thought to be "vanishing." Club members and others in the scientific community soon recognized that the system was an effective means of tracking the recovery of big-game populations and the success of new conservation policies. The Club utilizes the Records of North American Big Game Program to communicate the basics of conservation and Fair Chase to sportsmen. Since first published, the Club’s book Records of North American Big Game emphasized a keen understanding of species biology and proper habitat management, which is necessary to ensure the future of all wildlife. 

Population data show that conservation practices have a dramatic, positive effect on North America’s wildlife abundance. Growing populations of big game and other wildlife stand as testament to the foresight of Club members. Today, the National Collection of Heads and Horns is maintained by the Boone and Crockett Club at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri.

The Boone and Crockett Club first formally recognized outstanding North American big-game trophies in its 1932 records book. The book covered relatively few specimens and listed them by a simple criteria of length and spread of horns, antlers, or skulls. The 1932 book was followed by the 1939 records book that included informative chapters on a variety of subjects related to big game and hunting. In 1947, the Club held its first competition for outstanding trophies, ranking them by a series of measurements that were refined in 1950 and made into the current trophy scoring system.


Trophies on display at B&C's 6th Big Game Competition held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City - 1953.

Trophy entry now occurs during a three-year period, followed by public display of the finest animals for each category. These trophies and the hunters who took them are recognized at an awards banquet. Presentation of Boone and Crockett Club big-game medals and/or certificates recognizes trophy excellence.

Publications Program


B&C's first book, published in 1893, is now available as a remastered e-book.   

The Boone and Crockett Club’s publishing history began in 1893 with the release of its first Acorn series book, American Big Game Hunting. Each Acorn series book included a collection of essays about hunting, adventures in the outdoors, and historical perspectives of important conservation achievements, such as the protection of Yellowstone National Park. Seven additional editions of Acorn series books were published until the Club’s first records book premiered in 1932. Over the past 80 years, the Club has continued to release big-game records books, as well as select titles on conservation and its history. Five of its Acorn series books are now digitally remastered. And, with the release of A Whitetail Deer Retrospective in 2006, the Club began a new era of hunting history books that now includes A Mule Deer Retrospective and An American Elk Retrospective.

Today, the Club’s publishing program serves as a vehicle to distribute the Club’s mission, vision, and goals, and provides funding to the Club’s mission-based programs, such as hunting ethics, big-game records-keeping, conservation education, and conservation policy. As a 501 c(3) nonprofit, book sales help fund the Club's mission-based programs.

To date the Club has published over 60 volumes on various topics. Some of these include: Records of North American Big Game, Boone and Crockett Club's 29th Big Game Awards, How to Score North American Big Game, Theodore Roosevelt: Hunter-Conservationist, Hunting the American West, and Wild Gourmet.

In 1984, the Boone and Crockett Club expanded communications benefiting wildlife conservation and hunter ethics by creating the Associate's Program for people who support the Club's ideals and goals. This grassroots program has grown steadily. Today, Associates receive Fair Chase magazine, the Boone and Crockett Club’s official publication. It arrives on a quarterly basis. Other Associate benefits include access to their own online community and a discount on select books and merchandise.

Conservation and Education Programs

The Rocky Mountain Front

The Boone and Crockett Club purchased the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Ranch (TRM) in 1986. Located along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, the TRM Ranch adjoins the Bob Marshall Wilderness, the Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area, and prime wildlife wintering grounds on privately owned ranches. Here, the Club conducts habitat research, demonstrates innovative land management practices, and conducts conservation education programs. These activities are linked to a program of graduate scholarships directed by the Boone and Crockett Professor's Chair at The University of Montana. Dr. Hal Salwasser was the first professor to develop and lead the Club's Wildlife Conservation Program. Dr. Dan Pletscher was the second person to hold this position. Pletscher was followed by the former Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Dr. Jack Ward Thomas, who retired in 2006. Paul R. Krausman, who was previously a professor and research scientist at the University of Arizona, succeeded Thomas. The current Boone and Crockett Professor's Chair is held by Joshua Millspaugh, who was the William J. Rucker Professor of Wildlife Conservation and interim director at the Missouri’s School of Natural Resources . In recent years, the Boone and Crockett Club has added chaired professors focusing on wildlife conservation and related issues at Texas A&M and Michigan State, as well as a graduate student program at Oregon State University.


The East Front of the Rocky Mountains is best described by B&C Past President Bill Spencer as "the Serengeti of North America." B&C purchased the TRM Ranch in 1986, which is now base of operations for B&C's Conservation Education Program.

In 2001, the Club completed the Elmer E. Rasmuson Wildlife Conservation Center at the TRM Ranch. The Rasmuson Center serves as a hub for the Boone and Crockett Club's Conservation Education Program. It’s an ideal facility to conduct courses, workshops, presentations, and demonstrations about integrated natural resource management, natural resources education, and special topic seminars.


Youth from all across the U.S. attend outdoor adventure camps to learn skills like shooting, fishing, fly tying, animal identification, plus they get to experience the East Front of the Rocky Mountains hiking and packrafting.    

Youth from across the U.S. attends outdoor adventure camps here and learns skills, such as shooting, fishing, fly tying, and animal identification. In addition, they get to hike and packraft along the eastern Rocky Mountain Front.

Dynamic and evolving, the conservation program continues to test convention while looking for solutions to new challenges. However, the essential character of the Boone and Crockett Club has changed little in its century of existence. In 1910, founding member George Bird Grinnell stated, "It has not been the Club's practice to announce its purposes, nor to glory in what it has accomplished, but rather to move steadfastly forward, striving constantly to do whatever fell within its province which would tend to promote the country's welfare . . . a small body of individuals, scattered all over the country, working individually and constantly on behalf of things once laughed at or unknown, but now as familiar to the public mind as household words. The results accomplished by the Boone and Crockett Club bear testimony to the alertness and energy of its members, and to the success of the methods which they have pursued." His words accurately reflect the Club today.

Theodore Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot (the first Chief of the Forest Service) on the steamer Mississippi in 1907. 


It is the mission of the Boone and Crockett Club to promote the conservation and management of wildlife, especially big game, and its habitat, to preserve and encourage hunting and to maintain the highest ethical standards of fair chase and sportsmanship in North America.*

*Language adapted from the Certificate of Incorporation of the Boone and Crockett Club, May 23, 1923, Washington, D.C., as presented by Theodore Roosevelt, Charles Sheldon, Kermit Roosevelt, George Bird Grinnell, et al. 


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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt