In my line of work, there is always talk about record-book animals and what different trophies scored. For those who understand the jargon, this is everyday lingo, but for someone not familiar with trophy scoring, it may seem to be a different language.
Big-game animals that are hunted as trophies may be scored, and compared with other trophies to document who has harvested the largest. Record books are kept and each person that has taken a trophy worthy of the book, has the pertinent information registered. Having a trophy animal to your name, especially if it scored high in the records, is quite an honor.
The first organization to keep records and set standards for scoring big game, is the Boone and Crockett Club. The Boone and Crockett Club (B&C) was established in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president, and George Bird Grinnell, an anthropologist and historian. The club established principles of responsible, ethical, and sustainable use of wildlife, thus coining the phrase “fair chase.” B&C was instrumental in early wildlife legislation such as the Timberland Reserve Bill, Lacey Act, and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Roosevelt and Grinnell were influential in the formation of the first national parks, such as Yellowstone, Glacier, Denali and Grand Canyon. B&C helped to start conservation groups such as the Audobon Society, National Wildlife Federation, and Ducks Unlimited.
B&C set up regulations, determined procedures and created minimums for the scoring of large game animals. Antlered game, such as deer, elk, and caribou are measured by the size of the antlers. Measurements are taken of the length of each antler tine, main beam lengths, circumferences, and width between the antlers. All of these measurements are tallied to give you a gross score. Then the differences of symmetry is deducted. In other words, if the left main beam is 3/8 of an inch shorter than the right beam, then that amount is deducted. After all of the deductions are taken off, you have your net score. This is the score that is used for the record book. In the case of non-typical antlers, symmetry is not as big of an issue.
Horned animals, such as pronghorn antelope, american bison, and big horned sheep are measured by the horns. Like the antlers, different length and circumference measurements are taken, and deductions for symmetry are considered. Other big game, like bear and mountain lion, are measured by the size of the skull. Several length and width measurements are taken of the skull and added up for the score of these trophies.
A 60-day drying period is required, from the time of harvest, before a trophy may be measured. There are minimum scores that must be met to be able to have your trophy entered into the record books. If you think that you may have a big-game animal that meets the requirements, you can have the trophy scored by a certified scorer. There is no cost to have a trophy scored. If the trophy meets all requirements and the score is above the minimum, you will be issued an award for your trophy and the stats will be recorded.
In more recent years, other associations and clubs have been founded to meet more specific criteria. The Pope & Young Club (P&Y) was formed in 1961, named after Saxton Pope and Arthur Young, avid pioneers in archery hunting. The minimums are less stringent, but the measuring process is the same, after the P&Y adopted the Boone & Crockett scoring guidelines. To be entered into the P&Y score book an animal has to be harvested with archery equipment.
The Safari Club International (SCI) was formed in 1972, focusing mainly on exotic and international trophies. The SCI trophy books contain big game animals from North America and abroad. Trophies may be considered for entry that are either open range or estate hunting, providing all requirements are met. SCI measurements also do not deduct for asymmetry.
All of these groups, and others, are very involved in conservation and habitat preservation. The benefit of wildlife is their goal, and the perpetuation of the fauna is of supreme importance. By documenting the best of each species, these record books become a part of the history of wildlife and the heritage of hunting.
Taxidermy Tip of the Week: Bobcat season is open now, and if you have harvested one and are considering having it mounted, think about where to have it tagged. Myself, I prefer the tag to be through the achilles tendon on the hind leg. Damage is frequently done to the eyelid when the tag is put through the eye. For the purpose of selling the hide for fur, this is fine, but for taxidermy it is not the best. This damage is usually repairable, but avoidable. Check with your taxidermist to see where they prefer the tag be placed.