Almy: Book evokes thrills of hunting

Do you ever get tired of reading technical information about hunting? Although we all like to improve our skills and knowledge about our favorite activity, sometimes these articles can get a bit too detailed and cause the mind to drift.

If find yourself sometimes longing for the days when outdoor magazines and books were devoted to telling stories about challenging and exciting hunts, you’ll love the new book just released by the Boone & Crockett Club.

It’s called “Big Trophies, Epic Hunts.” That’s a grand title, but the contents live up to the billing. You’ll find dozens of stories here about the adventure and challenge of pursuing, and ultimately harvesting, the animal sought after arduous, grueling hunts.

Many of the trips were self-guided outings, which makes them especially appealing. It’s not easy to research, plan and execute a hunt and wind up collecting a truly magnificent trophy. And all of these animals are definitely that — superb specimens, some of them the best ever killed for that species.

And if you like a wide variety of big game hunting, this book is definitely for you. Species covered include Dall sheep (including two number one animals), black bear, caribou, pronghorn, blacktail deer, bighorn sheep, cougar, bison, polar bear, stone’s sheep, elk, moose, mule deer, grizzly, Coues whitetail and desert sheep, among others. Most of us will never get to pursue the majority of these species. But it’s fun to read the stories of others who did get to hunt them.

The first group of stories are all profiles of hunts from Sagamore Hill Award Winners, including Frank Cook and Harry Swank, Jr., who both took the biggest Dall’s sheep ever at the time they harvested their animals. Others include mountain caribou, pronghorn, Rocky Mountain goat, and Coue’s whitetail.

A second section consists of six stories called, appropriately, “Going Solo.” These include black bear, blacktail deer, cougar, mountain caribou, bighorn sheep and Columbia Blacktail deer hunts. A third section includes stories under the title “Out of Necessity,” with polar bear, elk, sheep and bison stories, among others. A fourth section is called “Sharing the Experience.” A variety of sheep, bear, moose, Musk ox and Coue’s whitetail hunts are included.

Finally, there’s a fascinating section on the “Science Behind Keeping Records” by Justin Spring. This includes many intriguing facts about big game and statistical trends that only the Boone & Crockett Club keeps detailed data on.

Most big game animals are doing extremely well and thriving, with lots of trophies entered into the record books over recent years. But several trends have taken place that merit more investigation. For instance, migratory caribou trophy entries have declined. And in spite of more hunting effort for whitetail deer than ever, the year 2013 saw a decline in entries for our country’s most popular big game animal.

All in all, this is a fascinating book that you’ll find hard to put down, with a new story beckoning after you finish the one you’re reading. The book includes 30 stories in all, plus an in-depth look at the Club’s highest honor, the Sagamore Hill Medal, with detailed information about all 17 winners of that prestigious award in a chapter by Hanspeter Giger.

“Big Trophies, Epic Hunts” is 6×9 inches and 280 pages. It’s available in a hardcover edition, with only 500 copies printed, for $29.95, or $19.95 for a paperback edition, from www.boone-crockett.org; 888-840-4868.

Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.