Big Game Trophies: The CIC Evaluation System
by Andre-Jacques Hettier de Boislambert (France)
Translated from French by Fiona Capstick (South Africa)
Editor’s Note: André-Jacques Hettier de Boislambert, a member of the French CIC Delegation, entered the CIC in 1950. At the same time he became part of the CIC Commission on Exhibitions and Trophies. In 1954, during the International Hunting and Fishing Expo in Düsseldorf, Hettier de Boislambert, was a prominent member of the trophy jury. He held the same position at the international show in Nuremberg in 1986. After participating in numerous meetings, Hettier de Boislambert was responsible for the editing of « Les trophées de chasse du monde: For- mules Internationales pour la Mensuration et le Classement des Trophées” – the French version of the CIC Standard for trophy scoring “The Game-Trophies of the World: International Formula for the Measurement and Evaluation of Trophies”.
In France, Hettier de Boislambert founded and chaired a specialized trophy committee in 1971, which became a National Commission in 1981. In 2006 he was again instrumental in the formation of the “Association Français de Mensuration des Trophées AFMT” - an organization of more than 200 experts.
Andre-Jacques Hettier de Boislambert is the Honorary President of the French “Association Nationale des Chasseur de Grand Gibier” and an honorary member of the Conseil International de la Chasse et de la Conservation du Gibier, known in English as the CIC International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation
Since its establishment in 1930, CIC has worked on the standardization and completion of the several formulas for assessing and scoring big game trophies which had been tried during international hunting exhibitions in Vienna in 1910, followed by Leipzig in 1931.
In Warsaw in 1934, and in Prague in 1937, specialists in European big game agreed on a measuring system that was eventually put into practice at the big international exposition in Berlin in 1937.
After the 2nd World War, work was resumed, resulting in the so-called “Madrid 1952” formula. Following several reappraisals and expansions, the complete CIC system formed the basis for the publication in 1978 of a volume in three languages titled “Hunting Trophies of the World”. This has been the reference work since for the assessment of all trophies, mainly of European big game.
There are other trophy scoring systems in the world, the best-known being:
- The Rowland Ward system, developed from 1892 onwards by the British naturalist after whom it is named. This method covers all huntable species but it is hardly used any longer except for African game.
- The Boone and Crocket Club system, developed from 1949 onwards, covers exclusively big game from North America.
- The Safari Club International system, created in the United States of America, covers all large huntable species of the world and is very dynamic.
The CIC System Features
All the systems in use in the world are based on linear measurements, taken at certain points of the trophies and involving only length, circumference and spread. The CIC system distinguishes itself from all the others by taking two special factors into consideration:
- awarding so-called points “for beauty”, and, subtracting penalties for so-called “imperfections”;
- introduction of the factor of “weight” into the formulas for the three European cervidae, the roe deer, the red deer and the fallow deer.
These special factors, that distinguish the CIC system, give it a negative reputation because, on one hand, they have no technical basis and, on the other hand, they allow subjectivity to creep into a measuring process that should be strictly objective.
Criticism of the System
a) Points for so-called “Beauty”
- The color of a trophy is independent of age, bulk and the animal’s state of health. It is darker or lighter depending to the time of the year when the animal is taken and the nature of the biotope, open plains or forest, the trees and other plants. Color is in no way indicative of the quality of an animal. In addition, it can be “improved” artificially.
- This holds true for the other factors that fall under the heading “beauty”, them being totally subjective.
- Beauty points, especially concerning the roe deer species, favor the possibility of a mediocre trophy being placed into an award-winning category. The nineteen points overall, which are envisaged in the CIC formula, can see a buck trophy of 86 points attaining the homologable level of 105 points. This is an aberration.
b) Span or Spread In what way would a trophy that is wider than another be superior? It is a “virtual” measurement that in no way indicates the value or mass of the trophy or allows for a comparison other than one that is purely aesthetic.
c) Antler weight for the three European cervidae This measurement does not convey the actual quality of a trophy because it is independent of volume, the only meaningful feature of what cervidae carry on the head. Weight is subject to considerable variations depending to area, density not indicating quality. A buck of 260 cm3 weighs 545 grams here and 600 grams in an area 300 kilometers away.
Measurement of weight, furthermore, is open to many mistakes because of the various skull cuts. Here the CIC formula is inaccurate. Weight is also of little consequence concerning biology and it is leading to arguments and possibly falsification, because it is easy to alter weight by humidifying the trophy again shortly before it is assessed.
In the past, the CIC system offered the advantage of allowing assessed comparisons among trophies at international, national or regional level. Hundreds of thousands of trophies have been measured according to the CIC scoring directives and it served as a reference for European species.
This system, however, was devised for another age when hunting was not what it has become. The hunting landscape has changed profoundly because of the development of big game in all countries, access to hunting by all social levels and the emergence of anti-hunting stances.
Nowadays, a section of public opinion calls hunting into question. In order to justify hunting, the main and best argument lie in proving its capacity to manage renewable natural resources in a sustainable fashion on behalf of the community.
In this context, the pursuit for certificates and medals appears obsolete and is negatively viewed. It must be pointed out that official scientific or technical entities responsible for the management and study of wildlife do not take this aspect into account at all, especially because the CIC system embodies subjective factors.
Consequently, it is the concept of the trophy that must evolve in order to adapt itself to the conditions of modern, rational, responsible and managed hunting.
A trophy will always retain its value as the hunter’s personal remembrance. This does not depend inevitably on its quality but also on the environment and the circumstances of the harvesting. It is the immaterial aspect in space and time of the concept of the trophy.
In wildlife management, assessment of a trophy assumes significant interest when it occurs at population levels. Control of the quality of an animal population over the years enables man- agers to ascertain the adaptation of wildlife and of its biotope. In this sense and in order to find an indisputable place for hunting in the 21st century, a measuring system, of necessity, must be straightforward to implement, exact in its directives and devoid of any subjective elements.
It is in this way and in this way alone, that this system can be useful as a means for sustainable management. The focus must not fall on exceptional specimens that serve only to pander to vanity, provoking an escalation in hunting costs and bestowing on it a deplorable elitist image in the eyes of the public.
A proposal is being made to CIC, consequently, that its system be overhauled by discarding subjective or unimportant factors such as points for beauty, penalties, span/spread and weight.
At the same time, CIC would be well advised to discard the formulas for carnivore skins, as it is known that their dimensions are too easily adjustable.