It’s going to be all antlers, horns, and skulls for hours on end next Saturday at the Big Bull Night. From 5 p.m. until way past dinner time, big game hunters will be bringing hardware from animals they harvested to the Yukon Inn, and Yukon Fish and Game Association guys will be waiting with measuring tapes.
For hunters who think the animal they’ve harvested might be pretty damn big, the event is an opportunity see just how big it is.
The association has been hosting Big Bull Night for many, many years — executive director Gord Zealand postulates that the event may even go as far back as the launch of the association in 1945.
“The general idea is that it’s for anyone that has taken an animal and they want to have it scored by official scorers,” Zealand says. “For some people it’s just for interest’s sake. For others, they have very large horns or antlers and they want to see where they fit with the Yukon records and the North American records.”
Having the antlers, horns, and skulls measured and scored is also the way the association determines who they give awards to at their annual banquet, which will take place in February.
Hunters bring in horns from bison and Dall or Fannin sheep; antlers from caribou, deer, elk, and moose; and skulls from bear and wolves.
In some cases, the hunters have spent many, many cold nights away from home to harvest the prized animal.
“To spend the time and energy for a large animal like that, it takes a lot of effort,” Zealand says. “With a large sheep, for example, you could spend a week or months looking for that special animal. You could walk hundreds of miles. And in some cases it can just fall in your lap.”
Though a hunter himself, Zealand, doesn’t go for the trophy animals. When he hunts, he’s looking for small and tasty.
“Personally, I’m a meat hunter, but you still respect and admire someone who has taken a very large set of antlers,” Zealand says. “If you’re a meat hunter, you’re not looking for large horns, you’re looking for a smaller animal. The meat, in general terms, is a lot tenderer.”
The Big Bull Night brings together First Nation and non-First Nation hunters, men and women. It’s an opportunity to share information, share stories, and share a laugh.
“It’s as much about socializing as anything,” Zealand says. “People come together and talk about the fall hunting season, and various people are going out on trap lines and you may not see them again for months.”
Depending on the success of the hunting season there can be between 30 and 75 hunters showing up, and the measuring can take place right up to 11 p.m. or midnight. It’s hard to say how many people will show up this year.
“This year will be interesting because in the first three weeks of September people weren’t successful because it was so warm that moose weren’t moving around very much,” Zealand says. “In the latter part of the year it turned around. With the chill in the air, the ruts started for the moose.”
As far as he knows, no bets have been laid, but word is out that two hunters have landed some mighty big moose antlers – a hunter in Whitehorse and another in Dawson City.
All will be revealed on Big Bull Night.
The Yukon Fish and Game Association’s Big Bull Night starts at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16 in the Fireside Room of the Yukon Inn in Whitehorse.
For more information call the association at 667-4263.