Where Hunting Happens, Conservation Happens™

B&C Member Spotlight - Caspar Whitney

By PJ DelHomme 

As a writer, war correspondent, journalist, explorer, and sports fanatic, Caspar Whitney combined his love of writing and sport to bring Club members and their words into homes across America.  


By today’s standards, Caspar Whitney was a jock among jocks. From boyhood to his career, he lived for sports. He was captain of the football, baseball, and lacrosse teams in college. He was also a boxer, fencer, wrestler, and track star. Whitney edited his college newspaper, and it might have been there that he realized he could combine his passion for sports with a career in writing.

As a sports writer, editor, and magazine publisher, he wrote on everything from hunting to football to the history of Hawaii. As owner of a magazine called Outing, he filled its pages with accounts of his hunts and those of other Club members. Ever the amateur sports lover, Whitney served on the International Olympic Committee from 1900-1904. After resigning, he served on the U.S. Olympic Committee from 1906-1910.

Caspar the Writer

Born in 1861 in Boston, Whitney aspired to break into the high-society ranks above his middle-class upbringing. Even though he attended a now-defunct college in California, he routinely claimed a Harvard education.

When he graduated college (not Harvard) in 1879, he had the means to spend the next five years traveling around Mexico and the western U.S., hunting, writing, and mining. When he returned east, he started a small magazine in New York City devoted to amateur sports. At This Week’s Sport, he selected and published the first college All-American football team, a term we still use today.

He left his magazine to join Harper’s Weekly as a sports columnist, eventually becoming an editor. At Harper’s, Whitney traveled throughout the United States and beyond. He explored Central and South America, India, Siam, Sumatra, and the Malay States. In 1893, he made a tour of Europe to study the sports of England. All the while, he was writing and published three books before 1900: Sporting Pilgrimage (1894), On Snow-Shoes to the Barren Grounds (1896), and Hawaiian America (1899). During the Spanish-American War in 1898, he was a war correspondent, reporting on the exploits of fellow Club member Theodore Roosevelt and his Rough Riders. Whitney developed a large following at Harper's, which served him well in his next endeavor.

This map was included in Whitney's book, Hawaiian American, which was published less than a year after the U.S. annexed Hawaii.

In 1900, he became co-owner and editor of the monthly outdoor magazine Outing. It was the premier sporting magazine at the time, eclipsing even fellow Boone and Crockett Club member George Bird Grinnell’s Forest and Stream. “He filled a good chunk of the magazine with his own editorial commentary, which embraced big-game hunting, amateur athletics, game laws, and sporting rules…” writes author Christine Bold in her book, The Frontier Club. The magazine first published Jack London's novel White Fang in serial form and frequently commissioned drawings by famous Western artist Frederic Remington. On numerous occasions, he reached out to Club members to lend their voice to the magazine.

In 1902, the Club’s Executive Committee assigned Theodore Roosevelt, Archibald Rogers, and Whitney to a special subcommittee with a goal of creating a standard scoring procedure for native North American big game. They created the Club’s very first scoring manual, Big Game Measurements. It was edited by B&C Club member James H. Kidder and published in 1906 by Grinnell’s Forest and Stream Publishing Company. 

In 1909, Whitney left Outing for writing and editing roles at other publications. Even with his worldly travels, Club connections, and literary pursuits, he declared bankruptcy in 1910. But that didn’t seem to stop his travels or his writing.

He worked with fellow Club member Frederic Walcott on the Commission for Relief in Belgium before the U.S. entered World War I. For his services, Whitney was decorated by the Belgian and French governments. After the U.S. entered the war, he became a special correspondent in Europe for the New York Tribune.


Caspar the Hunter

When he wasn’t writing and reporting, Whitney was hunting. On his expedition to the wilds of northern Alberta in a futile attempt to obtain a wood bison specimen, he quickly learned he was chasing ghosts. Ever the journalist, Whitney recounted the perils of his wood bison hunt in Harper’s in the late 1890s, and he compiled all the adventures in his book, On Snow-shoes to the Barren Grounds. He and his hunting partners tried to track the elusive creatures for weeks. Their accounts of hiring local guides only added to the frustrations of brutally cold temperatures, surly dog teams, and impenetrable forests.

It has long been thought that Whitney was the hunter who killed the wood bison featured in the Club's National Collection of Heads and Horns, but that wasn't the case.  That distinction goes to Dr. William MacKay, a surgeon who joined the Hudson’s Bay Company in Canada. Mackay and Whitney became acquainted, and Whitney wrote that Mackay gave him the bison mount around 1892. Today, that head is a centerpiece of the National Collection of Heads and Horns at Johnny Morris’ Wonder of Wildlife Museum in Springfield, Missouri.

After Alberta’s frozen tundra, Whitney’s adventures took him to the humid jungles of Malaysia, India, and Thailand. There, he hunted trophies, and he explains his intent in the foreword to his book, Jungle Trails and Jungle People (1905). “Those who open this volume to view the contents as of a game bag, would better close it and thus save time—and money. There is here the hunting and the killing of big and formidable game, but ‘twas not for that alone or even chiefly I travelled far from the habitations of man. The mere destruction of game, always has been of least interest to me in my wilderness wanderings, and I hope I have never given any other impression. It is not the killing but the hunting which stirs the blood of a sportsman…”

He attended the Boone and Crockett Club Metropolitan Club dinner in 1893 and became a member the following year.

With fellow Boone and Crockett members George Bird Grinnell and Owen Wister, Whitney wrote Musk-ox, Bison, Sheep, and Goat (1904). As the title suggests, the book goes into detail on the hunting and habits of these animals. No detail is left out, including a list of provisions one needs to hunt musk ox, which includes a 45-90 Winchester, eight pairs of moccasins, 10 pounds of tea, and 12 pounds of tobacco. Grinnell’s chapter on bison is packed with history and hard truths.

Hunting wasn’t Whitney’s only passion abroad. His thirst for adventure is captured in The Flowing Road: Adventuring on the Great Rivers of South America. Complete with maps and photographs taken by Whitney, this book covers five separate trips to South America, beginning in 1902. Whitney travels to Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile. Of the many harrowing accounts, few match the ferocity of his experience with an army of ferocious ants that attacked him one night in his hammock. “Never in all my wilderness experience did I undergo such a thorough and painful insect ‘biting up,’” he wrote. “At broad daylight the ant army was still marching, millions of them, it appeared, in a column as much as a foot wide in places and never narrower than six inches; where I had fought them they spread to two feet over the multitude of carcasses that littered the ground.”

And such were the adventures of Caspar Whitney. He lived for all of it—the adventure, the sport, the life. He was only 64 years old when he died of pneumonia in January 1929. At his bedside, he was surrounded by family and the mementos from a life truly lived.

Member Spotlights

Boone and Crockett Club members have come from a cross-section of famous accomplished people whose lives and careers have written and recorded the history of this country since the late 19th Century. They have been naturalists, scientists, explorers and sportsmen, writers and academicians, artists, statesmen and politicians, generals, bankers, financiers, philanthropists, and industrialists. Their diversity of ideas and activities during their careers have made the Boone and Crockett Club rich in its fellowship and achievements. To read more member spotlights, just click here

PJ DelHomme writes and edits content from his home in western Montana. He runs Crazy Canyon Media and Crazy Canyon Journal

Support Conservation

Support Hunting

Support Conservation

Support Education

"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt