March 10, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
When some look at the voluminous books that detail entry scores of record-class white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, wild sheep and more, all they see is a lot of numbers filling up hundreds of pages.
For Eli Randall, the late records director for the Pope and Young Club, such figures weren't boring math, but rock-solid facts that spotlighted the hard work done by hunters, natural resource agencies, and wildlife conservation organizations around the country.
Randall, who had been P&Y's records director since 2017, passed away Monday, March 8, 2021, in a Chicago-area hospital after contracting COVID-19.
His son Brandon Randall made the announcement via Facebook:
"Last night my father passed away after a 3-week battle with covid-19. I lost my best friend, the man who could solve any problem and always knew what to do, and the best father anyone could ever ask for. Eli Randall you will forever be missed and forever be in our hearts. There was so much I wanted to say to you and so much left for me to learn from you. I love you pop."
Eli Randall believed the various big-game record books don't speak to hunter success as much as they do the glowing successes of wildlife and habitat conservation work from one end of the continent to the other.
”World-record-size animals are a testament to the success of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation and is a credit to science-based conservation programs across North America," noted Randall a few years ago after participating in a panel-scoring effort for a world-record mountain goat.
Arnie Crum, a measurer with the Wisconsin Buck & Bear Club, posted his heartfelt remembrances of Randall in a Facebook post:
"I lost a great friend to Covid-19 yesterday. Eli Randall and his family have had such an impact on the Wisconsin Buck and Bear Club and our members for so many years,” Crum stated in his social media post. "He had been a chapter president, club chairman, records director, board member and mentor to many. He was also the records director at Pope and Young Club.
"My wife and I caught up a few years ago with Eli and his wife in Chicago," he added, posting a picture of the two couples gathering for dinner one evening. "He was one hell of a guy, and I can't begin to tell those of you who didn't know him the impact he had on so many. For those of you who knew him, you already know. Thank you Eli for the great times, you will be missed buddy."
Kyle Lehr, Randall's record-keeping counterpart at the Boone and Crockett Club, e-mailed a statement that noted the "measuring world unexpectedly lost a great man."
"As some of you may know, Eli Randall, Pope and Young Club’s Director of Records, passed away this past weekend leaving behind a wife and three kids," wrote Lehr. "Eli held almost every title for Wisconsin Buck and Bear (Wisconsin’s records-keeping organization) throughout his tenure. Was instrumental in the creation and development of the joint Official Measurers Manual between the Pope and Young Club and Boone and Crockett Club and did more for both club's than could ever be covered in a paragraph."
Randall believed strongly in the scoring process that fuels the record books, certificates and data put together every year by both P&Y and B&C.
"As a scientific method of comparing individual animals to others and to the ideal for each species, the scoring system is a testament to sound wildlife management practices and the importance that hunting has within those management practices," Randall said in a P&Y news release a few years ago that announced his new position within the organization. "It is a great pleasure and privilege to take on the responsibility of maintaining the accuracy and integrity of the Pope and Young Club's records program."
Randall had been a panel measurer and part of several high-profile scoring efforts that would result in several new world-record specimens for North American big-game species, including Coues' deer, mule deer, mountain goat and white-tailed deer.
His highest profile scoring effort was undoubtedly the massive non-typical whitetail killed by Luke Brewster as he bowhunted in eastern Illinois in November 2018. The Brewster buck, the reigning Pope and Young Club world record non-typical, as well as the so-called hunter-harvested world record for the B&C Club, was panel-scored by Randall and others in March 2019.
”The Brewster buck has been verified as the new Pope and Young World Record with a score of 327 7/8," said Randall in a news release after the scoring effort was complete in Omaha, Neb.
"The two panels consisted of seven measurers and was overseen by the Panel Chairman. This group represented over 217 years of combined measuring experience. After over eight hours, this incredible whitetail's score became official. Congratulations to Luke and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for practicing sound wildlife management."
Randall's passing comes near the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic's arrival in the U.S., resulting in various shutdowns and quarantine efforts aimed at combating the deadly coronavirus. While there have been numerous members of the outdoors community sickened by the virus, Randall's passing is one of the highest-profile deaths within the hunting and bowhunting communities.
At the time of this writing, no services had been announced for Randall. But Lehr noted that members of the hunting community have an opportunity to help Randall's wife Vickie, who has also battled COVID-19 in recent days, and the family as they lay the beloved husband, father, and bowhunting advocate to rest.
"If you would like to help the family, please consider contributing to a GoFundMe that has been created to help the family in these trying times," said Lehr.
- If you’re interested in helping in the GoFundMe effort, click here