Rooted in centuries of history and utility, archery hunting and its benchmark practices are solidified by the Pope & Young Club.
Historically, the Pope & Young Club is predated by generations upon generations of subsistence and militaristic archers. In fact, the club’s roots were not set until the early 1910s by a surgeon, Dr. Saxton Pope, and his new acquaintance, Arthur Young.
The pair’s interest in archery as a viable and ethical means of harvesting game animals was groomed under the tutelage of one of Dr. Pope’s patients, a native American man who went by the moniker, Ishi. Though Ishi’s accompaniment lasted only four years (he succumbed to tuberculosis), his influence on Arthur Young and Saxton Pope arguably helped set the stage for a resurgent movement bent on reestablishing the practice of archery hunting as a necessary and worthwhile means of taking game animals.
Pope and Young would undertake hunting expeditions to Yellowstone, Africa, and Alaska to test their skill set and equipment as an effort to prove their position. These adventures spawned numerous written accounts by Pope and well-attended public speaking engagements presented by Young.
Fast forward through the 1930s, 40s, and most of the 1950s which, during that time, archery hunting gained momentum and acceptance, as well as overcame regulatory and public acceptance hurdles to begin measuring and cataloging species taken with archery equipment.
The first awards banquet was held in Michigan in 1958 and was received with great support by the archery hunting community on a nationwide scale. The actual formation of the Pope & Young Club didn’t take place until three years later, with the first official meeting being held in Seattle, Washington. It was at this meeting that a board of directors and membership requirements were established.
The club’s existence, today, still maintains its original position on archery hunting as a truly ethical and efficient means to harvest game animals world wide. Additionally, it has grown beyond its record keeping intent to include valuable positions by which archery hunting standards are measured.
Many would argue that the Pope & Young Club remains the benchmark for archery hunting and its associated practices. Some of these positions, especially in a technologically driven society, are viewed as polarizing and limiting.
The club staunchly refuses to recognize animals taken with crossbows as their definition requires the archer to hold equipment at full draw rather than rely on mechanics. Other positions have become a standard upheld by the majority of the hunting community, archers and marksmen alike. Their definition of fair chase hunts denounce “canned” or “high fence” hunts as counterproductive to the foundations of the hunting culture and is a position shared by the majority of conservation entities worldwide.
At its foundation, the Pope & Young Club stands as the moral compass for not just archery, but hunting ethics as a whole. This is evident in the club’s position against the buying and selling of anything game animal related. This stance is a direct disagreement with the increasingly popular practice of shed hunting and the relative sale of those sheds to antler buyers and dealers.
As a conservation entity, the Pope & Young Club plays a vital role in wildlife research, education, pro-bowhunting activities, wildlife conservation projects and kids programs. Built on a subsistence means of acquiring food and adapting to include record-keeping and conservation, the Pope & Young Club remains a respected and pivotal voice in the hunting world.
If you are seeking more detailed information, or are thinking about a membership, take a look at their website.
Next week, the nonprofit focus will look to the skies; tune in to learn about Ducks Unlimited.