It’s been a long time since the days when stick-and-string pioneers Fred Bear, Glenn St. Charles, Dr. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young spearheaded the evolution of bowhunting across North America.
A once eyebrow raising method of hunting several decades ago that some skeptics questioned as a legitimate and ethical means of humanely harvesting a big game animal, bowhunting is now at the top of the heap in terms of mainstream hunting methods.
Photo Credit: Lynn Burkhead
If you doubt that, then tune into Prime Bowhunting Monday and watch the block of bowhunting shows that air each week on Outdoor Channel.
Then tune in the rest of the week because the truth is, there’s not a day that goes by on OC where bowhunting whitetails and other big game animals isn’t celebrated as one of the most enjoyable ways for hunters to answer the call of the wild.
But don’t take my word on it. Instead, take a look at the latest milestone from the Pope & Young Club which recently announced that more than 100,000 official entries have now been recorded for the 29 North American big game species that the Club recognizes.
Begun in 1957 as a part of the National Field Archery Association's “Hunting Activities Committee,” the P & Y Club was birthed in an effort to help improve the image of bowhunting as a legitimate hunting method and conservation tool.
Keeping records faithfully since 1961, the Club today is a champion of responsible bowhunting and fair chase, a defender of North America’s bowhunting heritage, and a repository for carefully gathered information that guides scientifically based conservation methods.
The latter is one reason that entry into the Club’s record book includes the filling out of a “Fair Chase Affidavit” that asks a number of detailed questions about the bowhunting harvest of the animal.
Such data includes weather conditions, time of day, angle of shot, distance of shot, type of bowhunting equipment used, age of the archer, years of bowhunting experience, etc.
All of this provides information (more than three million pieces of data have been recorded according to the Club) that fuels a massive scientific database for wild game managers to use while providing positive proof that bowhunting is a legitimate, ethical and humane means of take in the highly successful North American Wildlife Conservation model.
Part of the Club’s data collection includes the measuring of the antlers and horns of North America’s various big game specimens. Such measurements of length, mass and spread vary by animal species and are obtained by the Club’s more than 800 trained and certified volunteer measurers.
"The Pope & Young Club is very proud of the 100,000th entry milestone,” said Ed Fanchin, records chairman for the Club, in a P & Y news release.
“We have been recording entries of mature North American big game animals taken with a bow and arrow since 1961. This is a testament to how this system has withstood time and is the universally recognized standard in record keeping.
"Bowhunters choose a challenging method to hunt and the Pope &Young Club records program is a tremendous tool with high fair chase ethical bowhunting standards.
“The success of this program is directly related to the core values of the Pope & Young Club and we are looking forward to the next 100,000 entries."
While some have decried the record book entries as something driven by ego and bowhunters looking for a sense of accomplishment, officials with P & Y counter that each entry into their records also pays tribute to the years hunters have spent honing skills and mastering the challenging craft of hunting with a bow.
Club officials also indicate that this enables a legally harvested big game animal to be honored and remembered for years and years to come, even after the hunter has passed on, photos have faded, and big game mounts have turned to dust.
With more than 100,000 official entries – all obtained by enthusiastic hunters embracing the challenge of hunting with a stick-and-string – it would seem that legions of North American big game hunters agree.