Every year at the Boone and Crockett Club meeting at New York's Museum of Natural History the country's top trophy hunters receive citations for kills that range from Barren Ground caribou to Pacific walrus. Trophy hunting is generally a rich man's sport, or obsession, and the smartly dressed award winners who turned up this year looked the part. All of them, that is, except Carl J. Buchanan, an unassuming 43-year-old hay and pig farmer who came all the way from Athabaska, Alberta to receive the citation for the most perfect Canada moose specimen entered.
A short, wiry man in a bulky homemade sweater, hand-painted tie and white zippered jacket with black and blue stripes, Buchanan looked as out of place in this well-groomed company as a Canada moose in Miami Beach. His beautiful trophy was strictly in place, however. It scored 225 in the club's complicated point system, and is the second-best specimen in its class in Boone and Crockett history.
Buchanan had two bourbons in the Hall of North American Mammals before he was ready to tell his story. It must have been awfully galling to the trophy hunters present. Buchanan didn't pay a guide $100 a day. Neither did he spend weeks looking at record moose racks through binoculars. He shot his trophy bull less than 100 miles from his farm. Total cost of the trip: "Oh, just a few dollars for food and gas."
Buchanan relived his experiences over and over. Each time the story was better.
"All I see of theese moose is hees horns," explained Buchanan, affecting at times a bit more of a French Canadian accent than he really had, as the other award winners crowded around him. "The rest of heem is behind a tree. I don't move. He don't move. Then I move and he moves and I shoot heem in the heart."
"Did you know it was a near-perfect specimen?" asked one hunter.
"I think the horns is fine so I decide to bring them home," said Buchanan.
Someone asked what rifle and scope Buchanan had used. "A Lee Enfield .303, Jungle Carbine. I get it war surplus for $14.95. It have no scope, but it kill heem quick," said Buchanan. "I was a woodcutter in these woods, and I know where the beeg moose are. I know beeger bulls are there right now."
The thought of all those record-size moose running around in Alberta was too much for the trophy hunters. By the time dinner was over, Buchanan had the business cards of at least 15 of them who wanted him to guide them next fall. Buchanan is not a registered guide. He undoubtedly will be.
"I think I get me a guide license," Buchanan said. "Then I show theese fellows the moose, and they show me the money. You know, some fellows back home offer me $500 for theese horns. But I sell them to the provincial government for $50. My wife, she is very mad. But now I can make more money and still go look at the horns when I am old."