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Chatfield's Pope and Young Club to celebrate 50 years

Thu, Jan 26th, 2012
Posted in All Progress Edition

Pope and Young Club entrance. Photo by Karen Reisner

Even if you are not into archery a visit to the Pope and Young/St. Charles Museum located just west of Chatfield off Highway 30 is worth a look. Just look for the flags representing the United States, Canada, and Mexico fluttering above the facility which is the national headquarters of the Pope and Young Club and its administrative offices. The Club is a non-profit organization. Its primary mission is to preserve the future existence of bow hunting and promote conservation and wildlife habitat. Chatfield provides a relatively central location for the Club's home. Southeast Minnesota happens to provide hunters with some of the best opportunities and quality of game hunting in the state.

The Pope and Young Club will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and hold its 27th biennium National Convention at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester April 7-9. Every two years members come together somewhere in North America. This year it is to take place near Chatfield so visitors can tour the museum as part of the 50-year anniversary celebration.

The Club operates on a two year recording period and this year the two top bow-harvested examples of each species could be on display at the convention.

The Museum

The Pope and Young/St. Charles Museum of Bow Hunting was opened in Chatfield in October 2004. The five and one half acre property and facility was purchased in 2001. Pope and Young Club founder, Glenn St. Charles and his family, started the collection of artifacts dating back to the early 1800's, which were displayed at his home/business in Seattle, Washington for the first four decades of the Club's existence. Artifacts were moved to Chatfield starting in 2002 with additional items being added over time.

Glenn Hisey, who serves as the Club's first vice president and museum director, demonstrated his broad knowledge of everything related to bow hunting and its history as he guided me on an interesting trip through the museum.

The museum details the history of North America's bow hunting history and heritage. The bow hunting story is told in chronological order over the last 150 years. Five central figures in the evolution of bow hunting are highlighted, including Dr. Saxton Pope and Arthur Young, the two pioneer bow hunting enthusiasts for whom the club was named. They were instrumental in bringing attention to this largely forgotten form of hunting early in the 20th century

The largest and most complete collection of bow hunting artifacts in North America are on display in the museum. All 29 large game animals of North America are represented, mounted and on display. Also, there is an impressive collection of broadheads, which is the largest and most complete available for public viewing. The museum is free to the public and each year children visit the museum through public school, Boys Scouts and 4-H field trips. There are about 4,000 visitors per year from all over, including outside of North America. The museum is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Saturday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

The museum is funded almost entirely from membership donations. Pope and Young Club is a membership based organization with over 8,000 members. There are a number of other programs that generate funds, including books.

History of the Club

Kevin Hisey, executive secretary, reviewed the history of the non-profit national scientific organization committed to bowhunting and wildlife conservation. The Club was founded in 1961 by Glenn St. Charles to better the image of this challenging form of hunting by proving the effectiveness of the bow and arrow. St. Charles served as the Club's first president and recently died at the age of 98. The Club promotes the principles and ethics of fair chase and sportsmanship in bow hunting.

The Club has worked to prove the effectiveness of bow hunting and was instrumental in the establishment of bow hunting seasons throughout the country. The Club is supportive of wildlife conservation through moral support and financial assistance. They help fund wildlife research, education, pro-hunting and wildlife management projects and programs. The budget for the Club's conservation efforts has recently been over $110,000 per year. One example of the Club's outreach efforts is the teaching of archery in school physical education programs which involve over seven million children.

The Club also makes its conference room available for use by other non-profit groups.


A large part of the Club's work is dedicated to its records program. It records scientific data on North American game animals harvested with the bow and arrow. These records provide a historical record and promote the ideal of fair chase and the effectiveness of bow hunting. Records over the years provide insight into the the health of wildlife populations.

The Club collects and publishes the data in the Club's record books among other publications. To qualify, the animal must be harvested with a bow and arrow, under the rules of fair chase in a legal hunting season. There are several steps to qualify and get the animal registered including the signing of the "fair chase affidavit." Fair chase is "the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner which does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the animal." Fair chase demonstrates a respect for wildlife, the environment and others who "share the bounty of our natural resources."

The Club produces a record book periodically which is contributed to by a volunteer group of about 1,000 around the country that do the actual measuring which helps to prove the effectiveness of the bow and arrow as a hunting tool.

Two of the most recent books released for sale include "A Traditional Journey" and "Whitetail III." Both books contain records information and statistical summaries. More information can be found at www.pope-young.org

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