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Pope and Young Club is making a visit east

Jamie Drake

Outdoors columnist Jamie Drake

Attention, hunters. You could attend the biennial Pope and Young Club Convention to be held March 26 to 28 in Chantilly, Virginia.

This is only the second time Pope and Young has hosted an event east of the Mississippi River, offering a great opportunity for local hunting enthusiasts to attend a top-notch event.

You might not be familiar with the Pope and Young Club, or think it’s just a trophy-recording organization.

Yes, the Pope and Young Club is the official repository for records on bow-harvested North American big game animals. Together with the Boone and Crockett Club, the Pope and Young Club maintains the universally-accepted scoring system and sets the standards for measuring and scoring North American big game.

But the Pope and Young Club is first and foremost a conservation organization. We often hear the catch-phrase that “hunters are conservationists” since the dollars they spend on licenses and tags are mandated for state-funded wildlife conservation programs. But the Pope and Young Club takes that mantra much further, by adhering to the tenets of the North American Wildlife Conservation model and being a leader in that regard.

To put it simply, these hunters recognize the need to limit and regulate the taking of wild animals to sustain both animal populations and the future of hunting. There’s more to it than that, but know that Pope and Young Club members believe deeply in protecting our valuable natural resources so all people can access the outdoors, partake in recreation, and, of course, go hunting.

In recent years, the Pope and Young Club has donated over $100,000 annually through its conservation program. At each convention, the Pope and Young Club gives out four awards to organizations and individuals who promote the future of bowhunting and the conservation and wise use of our natural resources.

Pope and Young Club members also pledge to obey the rules of “fair chase.” You might not be familiar with where the idea of “fair chase” originated — it came from president Teddy Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was the consummate outdoorsman and was once invited on a bear hunt in Mississippi. When he was taken to a tree with a bear tied to it, Roosevelt refused to shoot the helpless animal. He didn’t want to kill an animal that he didn’t pursue himself and that didn’t have a fair chance to evade death. And thus, the idea of “fair chase” was born. Interestingly, this is also how the teddy bear came about.

It’s not fair chase to shoot an animal that’s trapped in snow or tangled in a fence. It’s not fair chase to shoot an animal from a power vehicle or power boat. It’s not fair chase to shoot an animal that’s enclosed in an escape-proof fenced area. There are many more examples, but I think Pope and Young sums it up nicely on their website to say that fair chase extends beyond the hunt, and is “an attitude and a way of life based on a deep-seated respect for wildlife, for the environment, and for other individuals who share the bounty of this vast continent’s natural resources.”

At the 2020 convention, attendees can see the Trophy Tower, which is the largest display of world record North American animals taken with bow and arrow, including whitetail deer, bears and a new world record Rocky Mountain goat.

Guest speakers include Nick Hoffman of Nick’s Wild Ride on the Outdoor Channel and Remi Warren, cohost of Solo Hunters and hunter, guide, writer, adventurer and conservationist.

There’s also a bevy of fantastic seminars including “Choosing an Outfitter” by Peter Barela of Barela’s Alaskan Outfitters, “Choosing the Proper Broadhead” by Jon Syverson of FeraDyne, “Backpacking” by Brendan Burns of Kuiu, and “Getting Kids Off the Streets and In the Woods” by Ray Howell of Kicking Bear. That’s certainly an idea that this outdoors writer can get behind.

Over the course of the three-day event, there are additional activities and tours available for attendees.

Walk the historic estate at the Winery at Bull Run while tasting delicious Virginia wines and learning about the rich Civil War history of the region. Visit the National Rifle Association’s National Firearms Museum in Fairfax. See firearms from private collections, pieces from the World Wars, and firearms from recent Hollywood films. And, if you’re up to the challenge, compete in the Pope and Young 3-D Course presented by Mountain Archery Fest and Kirsch on the 26 acres surrounding the hotel.

You can still register for the 2020 convention online at Choose a full convention package for $325 or buy tickets a la carte for as little as $10 per day. The convention begins at 10 a.m. March 26 and concludes after the live auction and gala on the night of March 28.