“The Club’s Annual Convention is the primary fundraiser for the year and provides funding for our conservation, education, and outreach efforts. 100% of the funds from our Live Auction go directly to the P&Y Club Conservation, Education, and Outreach Program. This fund benefits programs like wildlife research, education, pro-bowhunting activities, partnerships, wildlife conservation projects, and youth programs. With this in mind, we have decided to move forward with our scheduled, “LIVE AUCTION,” as an “ONLINE AUCTION” for the hunts generously donated to the Virginia Convention. You can make your hunting dollars directly benefit bowhunting by participating in the P&Y 2020 Live Auction.
As the nation continues to grapple with living life in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Pope and Young Club has joined the growing list of outdoor related cancellations as news came early this week that the Club’s 2020 Convention was being scuttled.
Scheduled for March 26-28, 2020 in Chantilly, Va., the move was made necessary on Sunday, March 15, 2020 when Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam placed a statewide ban on all gatherings of 100 or more people.
That left the P&Y Club with no means of continuing on with its long-planned convention as the COVID-19 crisis seemingly grows by the hour.
“The cancellation is part of a national effort to ensure the health and wellness of the public as we fight to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” stated a P&Y press release issued on Monday, March 16, 2020. “The Pope and Young Club apologizes for the inconvenience this has caused attendees, outfitters and vendors.
“For questions pertaining to the cancellation of the P&Y Convention, please follow this link to our website. We have put together some information to help those that were pre-registered to navigate this process easily.”
One of the most disappointed individuals regarding the 2020 P&Y cancellation is Curt Wells — Bowhunter’s longtime editor.
“It’s going to be rough on them cancelling this convention,” said Wells shortly after the news broke. “There’s been a heck of a lot of work that has gone into this already from getting all of the trophies committed (for display), lining up people to speak, the auction, etc. It’s going to be a financial hit for the Club, I know that.
“But it is something that is out of everyone’s control. When the Governor decided that there would be no groups over 100 people allowed, that took it out of the Club’s hands.”
In the hours before the official announcement, Wells and the rest of his Bowhunter magazine crew that were planning to attend already knew that they wouldn’t be able to head to the East Coast.
“The first thing that happened is that our parent corporation (Outdoor Sportsman Group) ended all nonessential travel during this crisis,” said Wells. “So, we knew we were not going to be able to go as of last Friday. And while we kind of knew this (the cancellation) might be coming, the state took it all out of their hands with the decision that was made over the weekend.
“Hopefully, that will help Pope and Young with having to cancel the venue, stuff like that.”
For Wells, the bottom line is that there are several key disappointments that come about following the the cancellation. And one of those is indeed the bottom line.
“The thing you’ve got to remember, whether we’re talking about the federal government, state government, or private industry, is that none of this is anybody’s fault,” he said. “Everyone is ultimately a victim of circumstance here, it’s just that some are going to be affected a lot more than others will be.
“That includes the Club, which relies on its conventions as a big means to accomplish their annual fundraising. So that means that we as bowhunters need to consider stepping up and helping the Pope and Young Club in some way.”
One way to do that is by participating in the organization’s live auction which has now been turned into an online auction. In keeping that fundraising avenue open, the Club released the following information in its press release on March 16:
“The Online Auction is currently open and accepting bids. We will be live-streaming the auction beginning at 4 pm CST, Saturday, March 28th. During the scheduled Live Auction, if you choose not to bid online, you can call your bid into the main office. To register for the Online Auction, follow the link.”
Wells, no stranger to great bowhunts around North America and beyond, threw his full support behind the auction process moving online.
“There are some serious hunts that have been donated for the live auction,” said Wells, the third editor in Bowhunter’s long history. “You can go online at Pope-Young.org and find out more information on how to register and create an account and to actually bid from now until the auction (goes live).”
Wells also urged bowhunters, young and old alike, to consider joining the Club if they haven’t already done so.
There are several levels of Pope and Young Club membership available, ranging from youth memberships to general memberships to even lifetime memberships. Those who join receive a 1-year subscription to the quarterly P&Y Ethic magazine, receive a membership card and certificate, obtain a P&Y decal, and plenty more. To learn more about joining Pope and Young, please visit this link.
Wells believes that the Club has certainly been a vital part of bowhunting’s past. But he feels just as strongly that P&Y is a key component to the sport’s future, too.
“In times like these, any group or facet of society needs unity,” said Wells. “That’s what joining the Club does for our bowhunting community. Every year, someone will tell me that they’ve taken a Pope and Young animal, but then they tell me they’ve never joined the Club. It’s not a Pope and Young animal until you register it. It’s such things, club membership and registering an animal, that helps the Club make its money and be a conservation force.”
Wells reminds that the Pope and Young Club is far more than an organization that keeps a record book of bow-killed North American big-game animals.
“People think it’s just a record keeping organization, but it’s far more than that,” he said. “It’s an organization that is working hard to help save bowhunting, to protect the rights of bowhunters, and to help fund and champion key conservation projects.
“Rifle hunters have the NRA to help protect their 2nd amendment rights and traditions of the hunt, but bowhunters have the Pope and Young Club.”
For Wells, the biggest loss of not having the 2020 P&Y Convention is the camaraderie that he’ll miss with people who are passionate about the sport that he lives, breathes, and works on every single day.
“I’ve been going to these conventions for a good while,” said Wells. “I’ve been to at least 10 of these, and those have all been the Club’s previous biannual gatherings. This year was actually the first one after they decided to switch to an every year format.
“I didn’t make the last one (in Omaha, Neb. in 2019) because I was actually on a bowhunt in Hungary. But from what I hear, it was one of the best ever with a lot of cool stuff going on. I was going to be at this one and I will certainly be at the one next spring in Reno.”
Wells urges other bowhunters to consider attending the Club’s convention next year when it swings to the West Coast.
“Perhaps the best part of going to these is seeing all of the friends I’ve made over the years, to be able to sit down and talk to them about how their year went, and to relive past bowhunts,” said Wells. "The Convention is a great thing to go to if you’re a bowhunter. There’s not any pretension at all, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a new bowhunter or someone who has been doing it for many years.
“Just to be able to sit down, to have lunch with, to talk to some of the most experienced bowhunters on the planet is the best part about these gatherings.”
Attention now turns to the Club’s gathering next spring. The 32nd Biennial Convention will be held in Reno, Nevada in 2021. To reserve outfitter or manufacturer booth space, please contact Rick Mowery at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (989) 884-3800. Spaces are limited and attendance next spring should be overflowing, so reserve such space as soon as possible according to Club officials.
“We’ll see them next year,” said Wells. “Hopefully, everything is back to normal. In the meantime, support the Club in any way that you can. We’ve all got to find out how we can help them in the short term.”