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The Nucleus Collection - Part 1



Boone and Crockett Club Member William T. Hornaday was the brainchild of the National Collection of Heads and Horns. In a letter dated March 20, 1907, Hornaday appeals to “The Sportsmen of America” to donate their best specimens to be considered for display with the “Nucleus Collection” that he, along with Madison Grant and John M. Phillips had already pulled together.

Six of the big game animals currently on display in the National Collection exhibit at Johnny Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium are from that original Nucleus Collection formed over 100 years earlier.

Sign on the National Collection building at the Bronx Zoo.

They include:

  • Woodland caribou – H. Casimir de Rham
  • American elk – Colonel Archibald Rogers
  • Alaska-Yukon moose – A.S. Reed
  • Bison – Caspar Whitney
  • Musk ox – H. Casimir de Rham
  • Non-typical mule deer – Andrew Daum

In each part of this series, we'll highlight two different trophies. 

  • Part 1 - woodland caribou and American elk
  • Part 2 - Alaska-Yukon moose and bison
  • Part 3 - non-typical mule deer and musk ox
  • Part 4 -  The Old Ones....bison, Quebec-Labrador caribou and Canada moose




This edition includes stories about Rogers' American elk and de Rham's woodland caribou. Both trophies have been on display for over 100 years in the Boone and Crockett Club's National Collection of Heads and Horns.

Colonel Archibald Rogers – American elk


Some refer to it as a Melk, half moose, half elk. Others just call it one of the coolest remaining heads from the original “nucleus collection”. Gathered more than a century ago, this collection was the hub of the National Collection of Heads and Horns, which numbered more than 800 specimens in 1916.

The Melk head was donated to the collection in 1910 by Mrs. Archibald Rogers, wife of Colonel Archibald Rogers who likely killed this bull sometime in the late 1800s. While this head is truly wild, it rivals the life of the late-colonel. Rogers graduated from Yale University’s Sheffield Scientific School. With his engineering background, he went on to build several railroads. Yet it seems his true passion was adventure. He was a pioneer of ice-yachting, which, as the name suggests, involves a sailboat fitted with runners, allowing it to speed across frozen lakes. His other passion was hunting. Rogers made dozens of trips to the West to hunt at the turn of the twentieth century. His adventures are recounted in his books, Hunting North American Big Game and Hunting. He died at the age of 76. A New York Times article from 1928 stated he died of injuries sustained when a dog caused him to lose control of his car.

B&C Score: Not Scorable
Hunter: Colonel Archibald Rogers
Location: Wyoming
Date: Late 1800s
Donated to the National Collection of Heads and Horns by Colonel Archibald Rogers

Occasionally a hunter takes a trophy that can only be identified as a “freak.” That is, one or both antlers may not have a discernible main beam or any normal points on one or both antlers, and cannot be scored using B&C’s scoring system. Such trophies are not eligible for entry in B&C’s records program, but will be reviewed by the records committee on a case-by-case basis. This American elk taken by Archibald Rogers is a great example.

H. Casimir de Rahm – Woodland Caribou


This woodland caribou is one of the oldest specimens in the National Collection. Most striking, though, is that it is the longest-standing world record in the Boone and Crockett records. This bull was killed sometime before 1910 in Newfoundland. While not the hunter, H. Casimir de Rham owned the bull and gave it to the Club when William T. Hornaday sent out the call for sportsmen to donate their best specimens to the collection. H. Casimir de Rham was an associate founder of the Club as well as a member of the board of managers. 

B&C Score: 419-5/8
Location: Newfoundland
Date: 1910
Donated to the National Collection of Heads and Horns by H. Casimir de Rham

Read more about de Rham's woodland caribou here.

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-Theodore Roosevelt