Chairing the Record Book & World Hunting Awards Committee is the most fun assignment I have had in 23 years of being a member and serving on many committees. It’s fun because I enjoy it! The level of hunting experience and knowledge of the species held by the committee members is incomparable. We work well together and discuss issues in a very “energetic” manner some times, but always come away as friends at the end of the day. We never dislike each other for not always agreeing.
With that said, there is work on the committee that all the members find quite objectionable; dealing with members who are not honest with their entries.
Simply stated, there are members who let their ego get in the way of their morals! We have had several cases recently that highlight this dilemma. You may recall that in last month’s article, I wrote about the need to attach good field photos to every entry form. In the first case, a member was sending in quite a few entry forms without field photos. When asked to provide the photos, various excuses followed, but no photos. This was a tip off that there might be other issues with that member.
As we dug further into the matter, we discovered we also had a lot of entries from the same member that included only photos of mounted heads. Some of those looked really old. The suspicion arose that perhaps the member was not actually hunting all of those animals. That lead to a detailed search of the Record Book where we noted who the member had hunted with over the years, and what species had been taken. After contacting some of the outfitters listed in the Book, we found that indeed the member had not hunted with some of them at all, and certainly had not taken the species listed in the Record Book.
Further investigation uncovered the fact that he was indeed buying some mounted heads, having them measured, and entering them in the Record Book. That lead to the fact that he was also forging the signature of an SCI Master Measurer on some entry forms.
This was a longtime SCI member who had, in fact, done quite a bit of legitimate hunting, with legitimate entries in the Record Book. In the end, the Record Book Committee voted to remove all of the members’ entries from the Record Book and no longer accept any future entries. A sad story indeed fueled by an ego to get more entries in the Record Book quickly.
In a second recent case, when entry forms were received by the continent sub-chair, he looked at the photos and compared them to the scores on the entry form. They did not seem to add up. Every entry form submitted to the Record Book Department is reviewed by a sub-chair for this, and other reasons. The sub-chair asked for the trophies to be rescored by another measurer. The member complied, but the scores still did not seem “right,” so the member was referred to still another measurer. Knowing that there was a potential issue with the score sheets, this measurer made copies of his score sheets before giving them to the member and sent them to the SCI Record Book Department. When the member sent these score sheets in it was very clear that the member had been altering the scores each time the animals were scored to reflect a higher score than what the animal actually was or had been scored. Again, that member has had all of his Record Book entries removed and no future entries will be accepted.
Unfortunately, those are not the only two cases the Committee has dealt with. Several other members in the past have suffered this same fate for very similar reasons.
I will conclude with two points:
If a member is trying to cheat the system by entering trophies he did not take, or altering score sheets to reflect a higher score, they will eventually be caught by the committee and lose all their entries and the right to enter any future ones. This is not only a very embarrassing situation for the member, but he could face charges by the Ethics Committee and be removed from SCI all together.
As I have poured over these issues for several months, the only conclusion I can come to for committing these indiscretions is EGO.
There are hundreds of mounted heads for sale around the world from various venues. If you see one you want to own, fine, but don’t enter it as one you have personally killed. If you take a good trophy, be satisfied with the size, or don’t shoot him in the first place. Having more heads in the Record Book, or more of them ranking near the top of their category does not make you a bigger or more important person! Integrity is far more important!– Herb Atkinson Chairman, SCI Record Book & World Hunting Awards Committee