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Perhaps you have inherited a classic Winchester rifle or a Remington Block and Keene. Or you may have purchased a kit and put together a reproduction of such a classic shotgun. You proudly display the firearm, keeping it clean and polished.
One day, though, you begin to wonder what it would be like to hunt with this classic, to step back in time more than a century and leave behind all the modern gadgetry of hunting. But be warned -- anytime you're dealing with out-of-date equipment, make sure you know what you're doing.
Before you head out into the woods, you should gather a little more information. How should you prepare? What equipment do you need? What modern technology can you use with your classic? How can you safely test if the gun is in working condition?
The RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club was designed for men and women with interests and questions just like your own. The club defines classic rifles and shotguns as those that were patented before 1910 -- or reproductions of those classics. In addition, these firearms must use center fire, breech-loaded, rimmed metallic cartridges. Telescopic sights were in use before the 20th century, so their use is also permitted [source: RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club].
You may be wondering about the origin of the club's name. Might Roosevelt be a reference to either the 26th or the 32nd president of the United States? And what about Browning -- surely this isn't a reference to the celebrated Victorian poets? Read the next section to learn about the history of the club and uncover the mystery behind its name.
History of the RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club
The RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club began as a way to recognize and honor Theodore Roosevelt's contributions to conservation, hunting and sportsmanship. The future 26th president of the United States spent two years in the West following the death of his beloved wife in 1884. During his time in the Dakota Territory, Roosevelt saw the value of outdoor life, becoming dedicated to big game hunting and conservation [source: Nobel Prize.org].
"There can be no greater issue than that of conservation in this country." These words by Theodore Roosevelt back in 1912 ring true today. Roosevelt, famed for his big game hunting, understood that habitat preservation was key to successful hunting [source: Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership].
Roosevelt believed that great tracts of land must be set aside for public enjoyment and use. As president, he authorized the creation of bird and game preserves, national forests and national parks. To say that he was committed to this cause is an understatement. During his administration, land was preserved at the rate of about 84,000 acres (33,994 hectares) each day, for a total of 230 million acres (93.1 million hectares) [source: Theodore Roosevelt Association].
At the same time, the club wanted to honor John M. Browning for his unique contributions to the firearms industry. Browning, the second man for whom the hunting club is named, was an inventor and gunsmith who lived from 1855 to 1926. By the time he was 13 years old, Browning had engineered his first gun. His father was a Mormon gunsmith; no doubt that gave the younger Browning an advantage. In 1879 Browning patented a breech-loading, single-shot rifle. Other patents followed, including the automatic pistol in 1911, the machine gun in 1917 and the automatic rifle in 1918 [source: Chambers Biographical Dictionary, RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club].
Now that the club's history has been revealed to you, don't you wonder about its mission? Check out the next section to learn more.
Mission of the RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club
Fair Chase and Teddy Bears
The Boone and Crockett Club defines the term fair chase as involving lawful and ethical hunting in a sportsmanlike way. Free-ranging, native, wild North American big game is the quarry, to be pursued in a way that doesn't improperly advantage the hunter. (That is, without unfair aid of technology or of so-called "canned hunts.") Most definitions of fair chase include a focus on responsible harvesting of animals so as to protect and conserve the animals being hunted. In contrast, early settlers of the West hunted buffalo nearly to extinction. Theodore Roosevelt practiced fair chase during a 1902 bear-hunting trip to Mississippi. His refusal to shoot a small black cub that the hunting dogs had caught led to a Washington Post cartoon. Only two days later, a toymaker in Brooklyn, N.Y., linked the cartoon to a stuffed brown bear for sale, calling it "Teddy's Bear." Thus, the teddy bear was born. [source: Boone and Crockett Club, Rubel].
The club's stated purpose is the keeping of records of trophy big game animals that have been taken by members using a classic firearm and cartridge. In addition, the animal must have been pursued under the principles of fair chase (more on that later in this article).
The club's Web site also offers a section in which those who have hunted with a classic firearm can tell their stories. A "Trophy Room" on the site provides another such opportunity, with separate sections for exotic, African, North American game, bear and deer.
Club members are concerned that we live in a time during which the human element of hunting is overshadowed by the advances of technology. By choosing to use classic firearms, the club believes the hunter is by default both a safer hunter and a conservationist.
To score members' trophies, the club uses the classic Boone and Crockett scoring method. (The Boone and Crockett Club was started by Theodore Roosevelt in 1887.) Prentiss Gray developed the format, designed for animals from North America, during the 1920s. All animals from other geographic areas are scored using the Safari Club International's methodology [source: RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club, Boone and Crockett Club].
Perhaps you've read enough to convince you that this is the hunting club for you. Maybe you're looking for other hunters who understand the joys and challenges of working with classic firearms and ammunition. Aim your sights on the next section for important information on membership.
Joining the RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club
Membership to the RooseveltBrowning Hunting Club is open to those who conform to the club's standards of using only classic firearms. There are five levels of membership, as shown in the chart below.
Associate Member ($50)
lifetime membership, with membership card
Sustaining Member ($100)
lifetime membership, with membership card, certificate of appreciation, and an annual
Hunter Member ($250)
lifetime membership, with membership card, certificate of appreciation, an annual, and a patch
Collector-Hunter Member ($500)
lifetime membership, with membership card, certificate of appreciation, an annual, and plaque
lifetime membership, with membership card, certificate of appreciation, an annual, a plaque, and special recognition
Theodore Roosevelt, the Writer
Among Theodore Roosevelt's many published works are "Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter," "Hunting Trips of a Ranchman," "Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail," "The Wilderness Hunter" and "African Game Trails." Many are still in print and make what Roosevelt himself might have described as a "ripping good read." [source: Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter].
If you're eager to give that classic firearm a purpose beyond resting or gathering dust in your locked gun cabinet, you may want to consider joining the other men and women who are letting their classic rifles and shotguns breathe again. Membership is in all cases for life -- you have nothing to lose and great potential for gain among like-minded hunters! Visit the RooseveltBrowning Web site for further information.
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- Boone and Crockett Club. "History of the Boone and Crockett Club." (Accessed 12/3/08)
- Boone and Crockett Club. "Fair Chase Statement." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary. "Browning, John Moses." (Accessed 12/5/08)
- Nobel Prize.org. "Theodore Roosevelt: Biography." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- "Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club. "About Us." (Accessed 12/5/08)
- RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club. "Frequently Asked Questions." (Accessed 12/5/08)
- RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club. "Join Us." (Accessed 12/5/08)
- RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club. "News." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- RooseveltBrowning Classic Firearms Hunting Club. "Trophy Room." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- Rubel, David. Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times. New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1994. (Accessed 12/8/08)
- Theodore Roosevelt Association. "Conservationist: Life of Theodore Roosevelt." (Accessed 12/8/08)
- Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. "Vision and Mission." (Accessed 12/5/08)