March 10, 2021
By Lynn Burkhead
Eli Randall, the Records Director for the Pope and Young Club, passed away on Monday, March 8, 2021 following a battle with COVID-19.
Randall, named to his current position back in 2017, had gotten sick from the deadly virus last month and had been hospitalized near his Chicago, Ill. home.
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.”
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,” stated Crum 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 this week which noted that 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.”
Some of that work came about after Randall was named to his P&Y post back in the spring of 2017 and was tasked with helping the longtime club and repository of bowhunting records to propel its record-keeping efforts forward.
“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,” said Randall in a P&Y news release announcing his appointment to the records director position. “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.”
During his time as records director for Pope and Young, Randall had been a panel measurer and part of several high-profile scoring efforts that would result in the declaration of several new world records for North American big-game species including Coues’ deer, mule deer, mountain goat, and white-tailed deer.
Randall’s 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 Brewster buck panel 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 whitetails score became official. Congratulations to Luke and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for practicing sound wildlife management.”
While Randall was highly dedicated to his work, he took delight in noting that one purpose of recording the dimensions of such outstanding big game animals was to shine the spotlight upon the hard conservation work done by federal and state agencies, the hunting industry in general, and the bowhunting community specifically.
"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,” Randall had said after one such panel measuring effort.
Randall’s untimely passing comes near the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival in the U.S. as well as the nation’s various shutdowns and quarantine efforts aimed at combating the deadly coronavirus. While there have been numerous members of the outdoors community who have been sickened by the virus during the past year, Randall’s passing is one of the most high-profile deaths within the hunting and bowhunting communities.
At the time of this writing, no services have 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, Lehr indicated that you can find that information here.