At its 29th Big Game Awards held this past week at the Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World store in Springfield, Missouri, the Boone and Crockett Club put the future of conservation on center stage with its second Jack Steele Parker Generation Next banquet. The banquet honored young men and women 16 and under from across North America who, over the past three years, had taken a Boone and Crockett record-book animal.
"At our big game awards banquets we typically honor the animals, but this one is different," said Justin Spring, the Club's director of Big Game Records.
The Generation Next Awards, sponsored by the Wild Sheep Foundation with youth travel assistance provided by Kimber Manufacturing, proved to be one of the weekend's most popular and inspirational highlights.
"This was really special to be a part of this wonderful evening and event. Parents were beaming, of course, but everyone was moved by the words and sentiments and maturity of these young people - the next generation of hunter/conservationists. It's obvious to all who attended that we're leaving conservation in very good hands," said Wild Sheep Foundation President and CEO Gray N. Thornton. "The power of that event reminded us all why sportsmen lead the conservation movement; so that those generations unborn would have the same opportunity we have to hear an elk bugle and see a majestic, wild ram stand over his domain."
In total, between 2013 and 2015, 168 youth hunters entered their trophies into the conservation records. Forty of these trophies were on public display at the Bass Pro store and 42 young hunters and their families were able to be there to be honored at the banquet.
Keynote speaker, Randy Newberg, host of Leupold's Fresh Tracks with Randy Newberg airing on the Sportsman Channel, spoke of how the discipline of hunting had taught him life skills such as self-reliance, problem solving, humility and sportsmanship. He said, "The smiles on these bright young faces tells me that there is hope for the future of our wildlife, conservation and the traditions of hunting. This is who we will be passing the torch to and I would say it is clear we are headed in the right direction."