Saturday, 8 April 2017




From mans earliest history antlers, horns and tusks have been utilised for making tools and decorative articles.  Antlers have been made into head dresses and picks for digging; horn has been used for everything from drinking vessels to the making of bows, and wild pigs tusks are still used to this day in places like New Guinea, for the make of ornamental tribal necklaces.  But apart from being materials for turning in to decorative and functional items, man has always found beauty in the raw, untouched commodities of antler’s, horn’s and tusks.  For this reason through out history, he has decorated his mud hut, round house, cottage, castle and two bedroomed semi with them.  I feel sure that early modern man would have looked at a larger than average set of antlers on a deer, he had just killed, with almost the same admiring eyes as a modern stalker.  Stories will have been told around campfires, and the prowess of the hunter would be gauged by the size of the trophies he had taken.  Nothing has changed really, we all like to spin a good yarn, whether it be about the one that got away, or the one that hangs over your fire place, we embellish and elaborate to make the story come alive, and keep our audience enthralled in our adventures, and tales of daring do.

In more modern times, the size of antlers, horns and tusks have been recorded in record books, the most famous being Rowland Wards book of trophy animals. Rowland Ward came from a family of taxidermists, and opened a shop in London Piccadilly in 1872.  Rowland died in 1912, his shop stayed open, but with the decline in popularity of taxidermy over the years, it eventually closed in 1976.  His book first published around 1880 is still in print, and list’s most of the world’s big game species.  Each animal’s entry has had either its antlers, horns or tusks measured, and are listed together with the hunter’s name, and where it was taken.  Animals such as lion’s and crocodiles are also listed, having no hardware as such to measure; they tend to be measured from nose to tail.  If you ever get a chance, Rowland Wards book is worth reading, and you won’t believe just how big some of the record animals are.

Another organisation collecting records of big game, and publishing them in much the same way, is Safari Club International.  They have a slightly different way of measuring, which could be argued is a little more comprehensive than Rowland Wards on some species.  SCI started in America in 1971, and now has chapters all over the world promoting hunting and conservation; one of the newest chapters is here in the UK.  Daniel Mulholland is running the London Chapter, which is the first in the UK.
The fascination with large trophy heads, as we all know, is still very much alive today.  If you only target the medal class animals, then you will need a bank balance that is equally as impressive, or if you are not so well off, you will spend most of your time saving up, and very little time actually hunting.  For me it’s the actual hunt, the stalk, and the being there that I gain most pleasure from, and if I am lucky enough to connect with an animal that is above average, then that’s the icing on the cake.  Some of you I realise do not have much spare time to go stalking, and when you do go on that precious once or twice yearly stalking trip, you don’t mind paying a little extra, to increase your chances of a trophy animal, and that is understandable.  If on the other hand you have the time to go stalking regularly, and are prepared to put the hours in, on ground that is not renowned for producing large heads, and therefore a little easier on the pocket, every now and again you will be rewarded for your efforts.  This is what happened to me a few years ago in the Scottish borders. 

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