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More Boone And Crockett Scorers For Alaska

October 10, 1987

ANCHORAGE (AP) _ If you mention ″the book″ to most big game hunters, don’t expect them to think Scriptures.

The Bible to most hunters is the Records of North American Big Game, published by the Boone and Crockett Club. The book uses a complicated scoring system to rank trophy antlers, horns and skulls taken or found during the past century.

Few sportsmen today consider themselves ″trophy hunters,″ but rare is the hunter whose mind hasn’t flashed to the ″book″ when confronted with a spectacular big game animal.

″Probably the first time they think about the book is when they’ve got a big one on the ground,″ says Jack Reneau, director of big game records for the small conservation club headquartered in Dumfries, Va.

Reneau was in Anchorage early this month to train 14 people as official Boone and Crockett scorers. It’s part of the club’s effort to expand its presence around the country.

When Reneau completes his last workshop next month in Oklahoma, the number of official B&C scorers nationwide will have grown from 450 at the beginning of the year to about 630.

″Up here, they (Alaskans) have the opportunities to hunt that people in the Lower 48 only dream of,″ says Reneau. With only five official scorers, a lot of trophy animals simply were not being recognized, he says.

Reneau, who doesn’t classify himself as a trophy hunter, says the scoring is to honor the animals and not the hunters.

And he says that since it’s generally only the oldest of the species that grow to record-book size, many trophy animals already are past their prime when killed by hunters and have already contributed to the genetic pool.

Although best known for the ″book,″ the Boone and Crockett Club has emphasized preservation of the 35 species of big game animals in North America since it was founded by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1887, Reneau says.

At the time, there were no hunting laws, market hunting was rampant and many big game populations had been decimated. Only a few hundred bison remained, whitetail deer had been eliminated from most of the states east of the Mississippi River and many other species appeared headed for extinction.

The club, limited originally to 100 members, devoted itself to reversing the trend. It was named after pioneers Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett.

Among other things, club members helped assemble a collection of head and horns that some feared might be the only memory of the continent’s once bountiful game herds.

To celebrate its centennial this year, Boone and Crockett stepped out from its usual behind-the-scenes role and spent $2 million for a 6,600-acre ranch in northwestern Montana which serves as a key wintering range for deer and elk.

Mountain goats, bighorn sheep, bears and cougars also use the land, Reneau says.

The club also established a professorship at the University of Montana with an endowment of $900,000 to coordinate research on the interaction between wildlife and ranching with an eye toward illustrating how they can exist to the benefit of one another, Reneau says.

The club also gives thousands of dollars each year to various wildlife conservation projects around the country, he says.

It wasn’t until 1932 that the club published its first trophy record book, in part because of the interest aroused by the head and horn collection, and in part because of dissatisfaction with the lack of recognition accorded American animals by European record keepers.

The second edition came out in 1939. World War II stalled further development, but in 1950 the club adopted a standardized scoring system and printed its third edition of the book in 1952.

The system for scoring antlers and horns is based on two elements: size and symmetry. Length, width and circumference are measured, and points are subtracted for a lack of symmetry to arrive at a score by which the trophy can be ranked against others.

To the uninitiated, the process is bewildering. The state crime laboratory in Anchorage was a maze of calipers, clamps, levels, cables, tape measures and wooden carpenter’s rulers.

Horns and antlers sprouted from corners and tabletops as the novice scorers tilted and turned trophies to make the various measurements prescribed by Boone and Crockett.

The workshop attracted a diverse group, from state game biologists and game wardens to an attorney, a chiropractor, an auto parts dealer and a carpenter. Once certified, the scorers will be expected to offer their services free as a public service.

Each had to pay a fee for materials and be willing to take four days off work for busy classes lasting eight hours and more.

Since caribou, with their multi-pointed antlers, and moose, with their massive spreads, are among the most difficult of big game animals to score, Reneau says the new people have some busy times ahead of them.

A hunter interested in making the book should take the trophy to an official scorer after the rack or skull has been allowed to dry at room temperatures for 60 days.

If the trophy meets club minimums, then the hunter will be required to submit photos, proof of a hunting license and a notarized statement that the animal was taken in accordance with the club’s definition of fair chase.

Fair chase rules prohibit herding animals with aircraft or motorized vehicles, the use of electronic communications for attracting, locating or observing game or guiding the hunter to the game, and hunting game confined by artificial barriers or game transplanted solely for the purpose of commercial shooting.

Furthermore, the hunter must certify that the trophy was taken in accordance with all applicable state and federal game regulations.

The fair-chase concept dates back to the club’s founding when such tactics as burning animals from their dens or running down deer and other animals in deep snow not only were legal but even were considered ethical by the general public.

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