ST. CHARLES – A St. Charles man whose passion for hunting started in boyhood with a bow and arrow recently was honored by the Boone and Crockett Club for a caribou he harvested 25 years ago in Canada.
The conservation and big-game hunting organization honored Edward Grzesik with a first award July 20 at its 28th Big Fame Awards Banquet in Reno, Nev. The trophy’s final score – 433-4/8 – was the total of a comprehensive series of measurements taken of its antlers.
The 76-year-old’s interest in hunting developed as a boy, when he unsuccessfully targeted rabbits with a bow and arrow near Chicago Midway International Airport, he said. In his early 20s, his quarry expanded to big game – mule deer and antelope, he said, noting he was mostly self-taught.
“The outdoor experience and being close to nature was what I enjoyed the most,” Grzesik said.
But he also enjoyed the physical challenge required to hunt some animals, he said. For example, he said, to hunt sheep, which live in high altitudes and have excellent eyesight, hunters must climb to the tops of mountains and hunt down. Grzesik would run two to three miles a day for several months as preparation, he said.
Additionally, hunters must prepare for the elements and be able to survive in the wilderness for days, Grzesik said, sharing his own experience of being stranded atop a mountain for nearly two weeks because of a snowstorm.
He shared no such hardships when recounting the hunt that netted him the award-winning caribou.
He harvested the Quebec-Labrador caribou in Schefferville, Quebec, the day after he encountered a migrating herd, he said. He and his guide were within 100 feet of the animals, he said, recalling the thunderous noise, clouds of dust and shaking ground.
“It was a thrill of a lifetime,” he said.
The next day, Grzesik said, he and his guide hunted a “good-sized caribou” that turned out to have a unique feature in its rack – a perfect double shovel. Most double shovels are asymmetrical or uneven in size, he said.
Although the trophy had earned recognition from Safari Club International, Grzesik said, he didn’t realize how big it was until he saw a smaller caribou at the Boone and Crockett Club’s headquarters in Missoula, Mont.
That’s what prompted him to have it scored by an official measurer, he said.
Grzesik has since sold the trophy to Cabela’s and expects it will be displayed in one of the retailer’s stores in Canada, he said.
He said he has donated other trophies to the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center in St. Charles and the Midwest Museum of Natural History in Sycamore.
Like many other hunters, Grzesik said, he values conservation and belongs to such organizations as Vital Ground, an organization that works to protect grizzly bears.
“Hunters are very conservation-minded,” he said.
On the Web
Visit www.boone-crockett.org for more information bout the Boone and Crockett Club, the oldest wildlife conservation organization in North America.