Boone and Crockett Club's
29th Big Game Awards
On July 16, 2016, I had the privilege of emceeing our 29th Big Game Awards Banquet, recognizing the great North American animals entered into our records system in 2013, 2014, and 2015. More than a hundred great North American trophies were recognized, but as always, not every lucky hunter or current owner was able to be present. By my count, 68 hunters came across the stage to have their awesome animals recognized, receive their plaques, and hear a brief story of their hunts and their animals.
Without question this was the most important event of the weekend for these hunters, and well it should be. A couple of especially lucky (or especially determined—or both!) hunters came across the stage twice, and there were a few who have been recognized in previous Big Game Awards. Realistically,
however, for most of the hunters fortunate enough to take an award-qualifying animal, this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. Hey, I even have a few animals listed in the All-time records book, but like most North American hunters, I have never taken an animal of high-enough quality to be invited to a Big Game Awards—and it may never happen.
So I fully appreciate the significance of each trophy recognized, but I don’t see that as the most important part of our triennial Big Game Awards. Instead, first and foremost, I see it in its entirety, as a celebration and ultimate proof of the fantastic wildlife resources we have on this continent and of the success of our hunter-driven and hunter-funded system of wildlife conservation.
As hunters, we like to say “the big ones are still out there.” Every three years our Big Game Awards provides proof not only of that hope that all hunters—and all non-hunters who truly love wildlife—cling to, but, now having concluded our 29th such celebration, the extension of that thought: The big ones are still growing and still breeding, and future big ones are still being born. And in some few cases of species not well-represented in this Awards Period, the realization is obvious: Wildlife populations and dynamics are never constant, so the work of conservation and wildlife management is never done.
This year, for our 29th Big Game Awards, we were exceptionally fortunate with our venue. The folks at Bass Pro Shops’ headquarters in Springfield, Missouri, went far beyond just rolling out the red carpet for our three-day event. They provided not just space, but plenty of well-lit and well-appointed
space so that the trophies invited to Springfield could be properly displayed, enjoyed and appreciated by tens of thousands of visitors—something that has never before happened on such a scale. That, too, is important, because we as hunters are a minority in modern society, and it is increasingly important that we convey our message—hunting is conservation— to as wide an audience as possible.
Lastly, at least for my part, I think the significance of the Friday night event, the Jack Steele Parker Generation Next banquet and presentation is at least equal to the proper 29th Big Game Awards presentation. This event honors young hunters who entered qualifying animals during the three-year
Awards Period. This is only the second such event, but the growth was exponential—and this event will be continued.nThis year 42 young men and women received recognition for harvesting exceptional animals. Some were already veteran hunters; for others, it was a first-time event. For them, too, it
may well be a once-in-a-lifetime. They were an awesome group of young hunters. They are the future, and they gave me hope for a bright future both for our passion, lifestyle, and sport— and for North American wildlife.
- Craig Boddington
B&C Professional Member