The Boone and Crockett Club's recent 29th Big Game Awards opening reception was held at the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium at Bass Pro Shops’ flagship store in Springfield, Missouri. The setting for such an important meeting of leading conservationist couldn’t have been more perfect.
Set to open later in 2016, Wonders of Wildlife is a celebration of fish and wildlife like no other. The vision of Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops, comes alive in this incredible testament to the devotion of Bass Pro Shops to honor the conservation legacy of North America and beyond. As you make your way through the museum and aquarium, you pass through wildlife and habitat displays from different parts of the world, including the Rocky Mountains, southern bayous, plains of Africa and Artic Tundra. Putting into words how magnificent these displays are is beyond my ability. You’ll just have to see for yourself when Wonders of Wildlife opens to the public later this year.
Founded in 1887 by Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, the Boone and Crockett Club is the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America and is a foremost proponent of “fair-chase hunting”, which the Club defines as the ethical, sportsmanlike, and lawful pursuit and taking of any free-ranging wild, native North American big game animal in a manner that does not give the hunter an improper advantage over such animals. I support Boone and Crockett because they stand up for what I believe in.
"Boone and Crockett began hosting public exhibitions of big-game trophies in 1947. But I don't think we've ever seen the hunting community more passionate about helping us deliver the message that hunting success follows conservation success—and vice versa," said Club President Morrie Stevens. "The Club was there at the beginning of the conservation movement that arose at a time when we nearly lost many species of wildlife to extinction. As one of our keynote speakers, Shane Mahoney, said, 'If the Endangered Species Act would have been in existence in 1900, every one of the species that is in abundance today and are legally hunted would have been listed as endangered.'"
The Boone and Crockett Club has maintained a records book of big game animals since 1906 as a way of detailing the health of big-game species once thought headed for extinction. The data is used to measure conservation successes, as well as point to those species in certain areas where more work needed to be done.
"Others have been trying to redefine the true meaning of trophies in recent times to represent something wrong or the bad behavior of hunters," commented Stevens. "It won't work. Proof of successful conservation and game management is everywhere, including the number of individual animals that grow to maturity. The last thing sportsmen want to do—or are doing—is hurt the wildlife populations so many have fought so hard to conserve."
A highlight of attending the Boone and Crockett Big Game Awards for me was hearing a young woman from Spain speak about her efforts to support fishing and hunting in her country. As an anti-hunting movement began to gain steam in Spain, this woman organized a rally in that drew hundreds of thousands of sportsmen together in the streets of Madrid to stand for sporting traditions. She explained how even in Spain, America is recognized as the example of how conservation should be handled. Our country is truly a leader on the world stage of conservation.
The Boone & Crockett Club is America's foremost big game hunting conservation organization. It was founded by President Theodore Roosevelt. I am proud to be a life member. Johnny Morris, John Paul Morris, Richard Childress, C.J. Buck, Rob Keck, Jerry Martin, Shane Mahoney, Craig Boddington and many leading conservationists attended the recent Big Game Awards. Boone & Crockett is leading the promotion and protection of fair chase hunting. I'm grateful.