most memorable events related to bowhunting are highly social affairs, and one of my favorite events is the Pope and Young Club’s Biennium National Convention and Awards Banquet. This year, the 26th Biennium Convention took place in Denver, Colorado, April 23-25.
Maybe these P&Y conventions are like mountain man rendezvous in the 1800s. The mountain men lived isolated, lonely lives for months on end, and then they gathered for rendezvous at select spots where they caught up on the latest news and traded furs, lies, and who knows what else?
Today, the rendezvous take place in air-conditioned hotels, and the participants constantly text, dial, and check e-mails on electronic devices — I think the mountain men would freak out at this — but, otherwise, gatherings of bowhunters today are probably very similar to rendezvous of 200 years ago. The 1,000 serious bowhunters who gathered in Denver might not have traded many furs, but they traded plenty of tales (maybe even a few lies), got caught up on the latest in bowhunting, and went away excited to do it again in two years.
Topping the list of reasons to attend a bowhunter rendezvous would be camaraderie, the opportunity to re-establish old friendships and make new ones. It’s life enriching, and it’s fun.
It’s also educational, because a gathering of serious bowhunters pools a staggering depth of knowledge. I personally attend the P&Y conventions as a sponge, ready to absorb as much wisdom and knowledge as possible. What better place to learn the what, where, when, how, and why of bowhunting?
And what better place to meet the who? P&Y conventions attract the who’s who of bowhunting under one roof, and it’s always a little humbling to meet in person those people you’ve admired all your life. At the top of that list at P&Y, of course, is Glenn St. Charles, founder of the Pope and Young Club. At age 97, Glenn still attends every convention, circulating among the crowds like a living history book of North American bowhunting.
For me, a highlight is seeing old friends like P&Y President M.R. James, Founder of Bowhunter Magazine and my former boss. It was also great to see G. Fred Asbell, who wrote for Bowhunter for many years and served as P&Y President for 18 years. Also, sports stars often attend the conventions, and as a baseball fan I enjoyed meeting former major league pitchers Mike Timlin and Mike Myers.
The big game exhibit is always the centerpiece of the convention. This year, 105 of the largest animals entered during the last two-year recording period represented all 34 categories of North American big game — 28 subspecies, and six velvet deer and caribou categories. Among the entries were four new world records. (See the sidebar and photos for details, page 139.)
Total record book entries now total more than 80,000; more than 41,000 of which are typical whitetails. For the two-year, 26th biennium scoring period, entries totaled 8,368, broken down as follows: 73.8% – deer (five categories); 8.7% – elk; 6.8% – bears; 5.9% – pronghorn antelope; 5.0% – all remaining categories
On the subject of records, the Club unveiled a new book, Bowhunting Records of North American Whitetail Deer, 3rd Edition, edited by Bowhunter’s own Equipment Editor Curt Wells.
This 850-page hardcover book lists more than 45,100 whitetail and Coues deer taken through January 1, 2009.
Designed as a resource tool, the book lists all entries by state and province in numerical order. The book includes dozens of photos of trophy animals, as well as chapters on aging deer on the hoof, hunting on the ground, scrapes and rubs, and much more. Perhaps best, along with the book you get a CD containing all the records, which allows you to sort the data fields any number of ways, an easy way to research whitetail prospects across North America.
Price is $43.95(including shipping). Order from the Pope and Young Club at the contact information listed below.
At the Friday luncheon, Michele Musacchia-Eichler gave an incisive history of Muzzy, a company her father, John Musacchia, started in 1984. On Saturday, Senior P&Y member John Rook, who has been blind for many years, inspired everyone with his humorous tales of hunting, literally, in the dark, while partners helped him aim.
Several dozen outfitters had booths at the convention, which gave attendees the chance to gather information and plan their own adventures. Displays of hunting gear, bows, arrows, and clothing associated with the live and silent auctions, along with the fabulous broadhead collections of Jewell Leadford and Don Williams, gave everyone plenty of dream material.
Several bowhunting veterans shared their vast knowledge during seminars throughout each day: Nathan Andersohn, “High Country Equipment and Safety;” Wayne Carlton, “25 Years of Elk Calling;” Garth and Jason Carter, “Hunting the West on a Budget;” Ron Sherer, “Do-It-Yourself Antelope Hunting;” Dr. Ed Ashby, “Broadhead Penetration;” Marv Clyncke and Scott Hargrove, “Spotting and Stalking Alpine Muleys;” and taxidermist Barry Smith, “Field Care of Hides/Capes/Meat.”
In addition, two sign-up workshops — “Elk Bugling,” by Wayne Carlton, and “Map and Compass Skills,” by Dave Doran — proved to be popular. The North Arvada Middle School put on a National Archery in the Schools (NASP) Demonstration.
If all th
at weren’t enough, off-site tours included bighorn sheep viewing west of Denver, the Coors Brewery, Botanical Gardens, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Friday and Saturday mornings opened with informative business meetings. This year P&Y will take an active role in the Boone and Crockett Club’s TV program, (www.boone-crockett.org). For a profile of the Pope and Young Club, tune in to Leupold Big Game Profiles presented by Boone and Crockett Club on Outdoor Channel on September 1, 4, and 6.
While P&Y is the major records keeping organization, the Club is also a major force in conservation and the fight to preserve hunting. Conservation Committee Chairman Mike Schlegel reported on grants that annually total more than $100,000 to conservation and prohunting causes. For the 2009-2010 fiscal year, the Club will financially support: American Wildlife Conservation Partners (AWCP) • Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) • Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation • U.S. Sportsman’s Alliance • National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) • P&Y/NASP Equipment Matching Grants Program • National Shooting Sports Foundation (prohunting videos for schools) • Jack Creek Preserve Foundation youth camp • AWFA 75th annual North American conference sponsorship • National Conservation Leadership Institute • CWD Alliance • Archery Hall of Fame and Museum • Deer DNA study — Arizona Game and Fish Department • Absaroka elk study — Wyoming Game and Fish Department • National Hunting and Fishing Day sponsorship • National Bowhunter Education Foundation — Project STAND • Kicking Bear Foundation — youth camps • Conservation Leaders for Tomorrow • Big Game Profiles TV show partnership with Boone and Crockett Club
WRAPPING IT UP
At the Friday night banquet, Club President M.R. James recognized out-going board members G. Fred Asbell, Stan Rauch, and Warren Strickland for their years of faithful service.
That was followed by the presentation of three prestigious awards. The Pope and Young Conservation Award, which recognizes achievement in promoting bowhunting and the conservation and wise use of our natural resources, went to Kelly Semple, from Edmonton, Alberta.
The Stewardship Award, which recognizes a bowhunter or organization that has conveyed a positive, good-citizen image to the hunting and nonhunting public, went to New York Bowhunters Inc.
And the Lee Gladfelter Memorial Award, which recognizes a wildlife professional who has made a significant contribution to bowhunting and wildlife conservation, went to Ken Mayer, currently Director, Nevada Div. of Wildlife.
Colorado folk singer, Chuck Pyle, finished off a great evening with some down-to-earth music.
The Saturday night banquet wrapped up the convention in grand fashion. One highlight was the drawing of the winning tickets for the Club’s 2009 Conservation raffle. Crist Newcomer of Pennsylvania won the grand prize, a seven-day, fully guided hunt for Alaska/Yukon moose in the Yukon Territory, courtesy of Ruth and Terry Wilkinson of Ceaser Lake Outfitters (www.ceaserlake.com), in association with Bowhunting Safari Consultants (www.bowhuntingsafari.com). Lynda Denton of Indiana won second prize, a five-day, semi-guided bowhunt for pronghorn antelope on the Spearhead Ranch in Wyoming, donated by Frank, Elaine, Keith, and David Moore of the Spearhead Ranch (www.spearheadranch.com).
Gary Morris, himself a serious bowhunter, gave the keynote presentation. As a popular singer and opera star, Morris has sung in front of five presidents and the Queen of England — and now the bowhunting community. His performance was great, as he sang several stirring songs, concluded with his signature hit, “Wind Beneath My Wings.”
The banquet and convention closed with presentation of the big game awards, all 105 of them. What better way to wrap up a biennium than to honor so many tremendous animals and the hunters who took them?
The 2011 Biennium National Convention and Awards Banquet will be held in Rochester, Minnesota. I personally am looking forward to that rendezvous. The Pope and Young Club is a tremendous force for bowhunting that deserves the full support of every bowhunter in North America, and the conventions are just a lot of fun. I personally would not miss the next rendezvous, and I hope to meet you there.
Established in 1961, the Pope and Young Club is a nonprofit North American conservation and bowhunting organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of our bowhunting heritage, hunting ethics and wildlife conservation. The Club also maintains the universally recognized repository for the records and statistics on North American big game animals harvested with the bow and arrow. For information and to join, contact: Pope and Young Club, PO Box 548, Chatfield, MN 55923; (507) 867-4144; www.pope-young.org.