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If You Have To Look Twice – A B&C Audio Adventure

By Roger Hedgecock
20th Big Game Awards Program | From Legendary Hunts

On one hand, I can say Boone and Crockett has never really been the objective of any of my hunting trips. But on the other hand, I can never remember sitting on a cold deer stand, rifle in hand, that thoughts of a record whitetail didn’t cross my mind. In fact, on my second elk hunt, I felt the rush of adrenalin on a Wyoming mountain. But that big bull, the largest one in the whole world to me at the time, measured 320 unofficially and it takes 360 to make the Awards book.

That elk hunt was back in 1986, and I figured that was the biggest of big game for me. There’s an old adage about not knowing what the future holds. I believe in it.

At the time of the elk hunt, I had never seen a barren ground caribou. I had never seen a caribou of any kind. To be perfectly clear on the matter, I had never seen a caribou until September 25, 1987, the day we flew into a base camp that was located about 80 miles north of Nondalton, Alaska.

The next day, about two miles from camp, I squeezed the trigger on my .300 Weatherby. It was nearly one o’clock, an hour-and-a-half after the guide, Bob Tracy, had spotted the animal and said we were going after it. I could detect some excitement in his voice as he pointed it out in a herd of about 20. As we slowly worked our way from Mosquito Creek across barren tundra, using ridges as shields, trying to reach the highest point nearest the herd, I kept remembering what Bob had said, “If you have to look twice at the size of the rack, it ain’t worth going after.”

That elk hunt was back in 1986, and I figured that was the biggest of big game for me. There’s an old adage about not knowing what the future holds. I believe in it.

We were going and going hard. We crawled the last 200 yards. The cows, apparently sensing something was wrong, got up and started moving from left to right. Flat on my-stomach, I was watching through my 3x9 Nikon scope. My eyes were watering, my vision was blurred, and I raised my head to wipe my eyes. At this point, I got my first really good look at the rack. Rack was all I could see. Quickly I put my binoculars before my eyes to take another look. I saw the rack, the head, and then the body. He was walking slowly behind the cows.

As I eased the rifle into a shooting position, Bob was whispering, “Wait. Wait. Give him just a little more time, and you, take your time. Make the first shot a good one.”

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Finally, after what seemed longer than the trip from North Carolina to Alaska, the big bull showed me his right shoulder. I fired! The animal spun completely around and just stood there. I fired again, and he spun completely around once again. Each time I could hear the impact of the 220-grain bullet. The novice of my caribou hunting came out. I asked Bob, “Did I hit him?” 

He nodded his head and added, “He’ll die standing. Just wait, you have placed two bullets right on target.”

The cows ran and the bull didn’t, and I began feeling comfortable. Finally, the huge body crumbled to the tundra. At such a time I guess most hunters find something to worry about. I knew the hip boots were lighter as we walked the 200 yards, but I was worried about a broken tine, or just simply broken antlers. You allow a lot of things to pass through your mind. Bob’s first words were comforting. “It’s a really big one,” he said. “And it may make the book.”

Of course we took a lot of pictures before caping the animal out and quartering the meat and packing it out, but my real excitement didn’t come until we were back at camp. We did not score it at camp, but Bob talked seriously with my wife Molly and me about the possibil­ity of a records-book caribou.

Bob packed the meat and antlers and sent them back to Nondalton. I knew it was a super way to begin a hunt. For the next nine days, we hunted moose and brown bear. It was the kind of hunt you dream about. I was able to fill both tags, a moose that rough scored 218 and a bear measuring 9-1/2 feet. Molly bagged a moose, caribou, and brown bear.

After the hunt, we returned to Nondalton and began rough scoring the caribou. Three people scored it from 470 to 477. Bob told me that after the 60-day drying period, he felt sure the animal would score close to the current World’s Record. This makes you get a lot more excited about records than you have ever been.

After the drying period, an official measurer for the Boone and Crockett Club scored the antlers at 465-1/8. Then, we shipped the cape to Cody Taxidermy in Wyoming, where the trophy was mounted and then shipped to North Carolina.

It was a long year-and-a-half, waiting to know if this trophy will go in the records book, and how it will rank. It’s like Christmas morning for a 45-year-old farm boy from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, who until recently seldom dreamed of a records book trophy, especially a records book caribou. 

Note: Shortly after the 20th Awards Banquet, Roger Hedgecock agreed to a continuing loan of his trophy to the Boone and Crockett Club’s National Collection of Heads and Horns, where was enjoyed by the vast throngs of hunters who visited the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. In 2016, the National Collection was relocated to Johnny L. Morris' Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. 

The Importance of Records in Big Game Management

When you enter your trophy into the Boone and Crockett system, you aren’t just honoring the animal and its habitat. You are participating in a data collection system that started in the 1920s and was refined by Club members in 1950. Today, there are nearly 60,000 trophy records. By establishing a records database more than 70 years ago, the Boone and Crockett Club established a scientific baseline from which researchers can use to study wildlife management. If you’re still  on the fence about entering your trophy, we encourage you to read Why Should I Bother to Enter My Trophy. To the best of our ability, we ensure that the trophies entered into the records were taken in accordance with the tenets of fair chase ethics. Despite what some may think, the Boone and Crockett records are not about a name or a score in a book—because in the end, there’s so much more to the score.



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

-Theodore Roosevelt