Some hunters go to great lengths to display their trophies

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2002

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) -- Walk into Bill Waugaman's living room and you feel as if you should be paying admission.

Some people collect stamps or coins. Others have art galleries or libraries. Waugaman's passion happens to be hunting, specifically sheep hunting.

Over the last 30 years, he has accumulated one of the most impressive trophy collections in the world. He is one of a handful of hunters who has achieved what the sheep hunting fraternity refers to as the ''Super Slam,'' given to a hunter who has legally harvested at least 12 species of the world's wild sheep.

''That's all the sheep that you're allowed to take legally with two exceptions,'' the 86-year-old Waugaman said, as he looked up at his collection of 20 sheep head mounts, which are divided into two rows of nine. There is a mount on each end serving as bookends.

He hands a visitor an orange piece of paper that serves as a map, listing the sheep by species and where each was shot. There are five sheep from Iran, three from Mongolia, two from Canada. There are sheep from Afghanistan, China, Mexico, Siberia, Spain, Nepal and New Zealand

''I spent 40 days hunting sheep in Iran,'' he said. ''Iran is probably the best sheep hunting in the world. You could take four different species of sheep there. The shah of Iran was a sheep hunter and he developed the herds there.''

He walks over and points to the Siberian big horn at the end of the bottom row of sheep head mounts.

''I got that in Siberia and we hunted with reindeer,'' Waugaman said. ''They dragged me around on a reindeer sled.''

Waugaman's sheep collection is the centerpiece to an impressive big game trophy room that resembles a hunting museum.

A white polar bear hide measuring 10 feet covers much of one wall. The skull sits across the room on the mantle above the fireplace.

''I shot that the last year it was legal, me and (Fairbanks Master Guide) Chuck Gray,'' Waugaman said. ''It took two years to get that one.''

Unlike many trophy rooms, Waugaman's isn't dominated by head and body mounts. Other than the 20 sheep head mounts that are somewhat hidden on a high wall in the back of the room, there are only a handful of head mounts.

''I don't care much for the heads, really,'' he said.

Waugaman's trophy room features several European mounts -- bleached-white skulls with the antlers or horns still attached. There is a red deer from Spain, an Asian buffalo from northwest Australia, a Dall sheep ram and a kudu from Africa.

The mantle to the fireplace at one end of the room is covered with hunting paraphernalia. The skull from the polar bear, skulls from payara and piranha, the eardrum of a whale, poison arrows he bought from Natives on the Serengeti River.

''I bought them because they had poison tips on them and in order to ship them they had to boil the poison off them,'' he said.

Old, giant bear traps sit on the floor in front of the fireplace. Spears from Africa and a blow gun from South America stand in a corner next to a bar.

Framed photos are scattered around the room. There is a photo of he and the 11-foot, 4-inch brown bear he shot in 1950 on Morzhovoi Island, the last island on the Alaska Peninsula. The picture is the only trophy he has left of the bear. The hide was ruined in the Fairbanks flood of 1967.

Surprisingly, there are no moose or caribou mounts displayed in Waugaman's game room, even though he has shot dozens of each in his 62 years in Alaska.

''Too big, too big,'' Waugaman said with a wave of his hand. ''There's no sense in putting moose antlers up unless they're 70 inches and I don't have a space big enough.''

Like Waugaman's game room, Dave Lanni's trophy collection features a little bit of everything.

''The whole house is designed around this,'' Lanni said as he walked into his 30-foot by 30-foot trophy room. The 12-foot high walls have 1 x 12's placed every two feet inside them to hang trophies.

A cluster of five full body mounts stands in the middle of the room. There is a record sable and kudu, both which he shot in Africa.

''This is the one I wanted the most when I went to Zambia,'' Lanni said, nodding at the sable. ''I figured if I was lucky enough to get them I would mount them full size to show off the color and size.''

Sandwiched between the sable and kudu are a pair of musk ox he and his son took on Nunavat Island in the Northwest Territories. A 10 1/2-foot standing grizzly bear towers over the cluster of full body mounts.

''That's a special bear,'' Lanni said. ''That's an Interior grizzly we shot down near Paxson Mountain. You don't find many Interior grizzlies that big.''

One corner of the room features full body mounts of a cougar from Oregon and lynx and wolverine from Alaska.

A 9 1/2-foot, 480-pound lion stands on top of Lanni's television cabinet. He shot the lion on the border of Somalia and Kenya in northern Africa.

''It was a cattle killer and they gave me a permit to shoot him,'' Lanni said. ''We hunted him by moonlight.''

Like the lion, each and every trophy in Lanni's game room has a story behind it.

''That elk started my professional trophy hunting,'' Lanni said, nodding toward a head mount of an elk with massive antlers on the back wall.

It was 1972 and Lanni was hunting elk on the Little Bighorn River on the border of Wyoming and Montana. It was the last day of a 10-day hunt and Lanni was perched on top of a mountain surveying a long canyon.

''I saw a silhouette of an elk across the canyon,'' he said. ''I couldn't see horns but I could tell it was a bull by the way it was standing.

''It was a long shot and I got three shots into him,'' Lanni said. ''I ran over there and he was laying half over a cliff. I grabbed him by the horns so he wouldn't slide down the mountain and then I rolled him over.

''I was having a cigarette before figuring out what I had done,'' he said. ''I had flipped that thing over by myself I was so excited.''

A record-sized caribou, one of three on the wall, sits next to the elk. A friend and former guide, Cleo McMann, gave Lanni the caribou after it was found tangled up in wire from the old telegraph line from Valdez to Fairbanks.

One whole wall of Lanni's room is dedicated to Africa trophies. There is an Asiatic water buffalo sandwiched by two cape buffalo mounts. There is a record eland and a brindle wildebeest. Lanni has a head mount of the last black rhino that was imported into the U.S. by a sport hunter. There are antelope of all shapes and sizes, with horns of all shapes and sizes.

A pedestal mount of a giraffe from the shoulders up stands in the corner, next to a 55-pound elephant tusk and a full-body mount of a 10 1/2-foot grizzly bear Lanni shot in Kamchatka, Russia. Lanni shot the giraffe in 1976, the last year Kenya was open for sport hunting.

''That thing weighed 3,000 pounds and was 17 feet high,'' he added. ''We killed it as bait for lion and leopard and to feed the helpers. It tastes like beef.''

Alan Jubenville doesn't need a photo album to recount his life. He just looks around the walls of his living room.

Jubenville has upward of 50 head mounts on the three walls of the 20-foot by 24-foot room that features ceilings reaching 27 feet high.

''I can look up there and it reminds me of some great experience I had someplace,'' the 61-year-old Jubenville said. ''It's sort of a chronology of Alan Jubenville and his adventures.''

Jubenville has been to Africa twice on safaris. He has hunted in Australia, England, New Zealand and Kyrgystan, part of the old Soviet Union near the China border. He has also hunted all over the Lower 48 and in Hawaii.

''If I didn't hunt I'd be rich,'' said Jubenville, who retired as a natural resources professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks three years ago.

One wall of his living room is dedicated mostly to sheep. He has head mounts of two 39 1/2-inch Dall rams taken in Alaska, as well as a mounts of Bighorn and Stone sheep taken in British Columbia. A pair of mouflon sheep, one from Texas and one from Hawaii, serve as bookends. There is a half mount of a barbary sheep taken in New Mexico. A pair of goats from New Zealand, a Chamois and a Thar, complement the wall of sheep.

Another wall features head mounts of two caribou, one on each side. A set of 66-inch moose antlers that made the Boone and Crockett Club sits between them. Below the caribou and moose there are head mounts of a cape buffalo, kudu and eland, all from Africa. There is also an Asian water buffalo from Australia, a musk ox from Nunavat Island in Northwest Territories and a bison from a game ranch in South Dakota.

The third wall is mix of deer, elk and antelope from the Lower 48 and Africa, as well as a group of five wild boars and one havalina.

A full-body mount of a cougar from Montana lies on top of his television stand.

A balcony overlooking the living room features the head mount of a gemsbok from Africa, as well as water buck, reed buck, impala and bush buck, all types of African antelope.

The are also head mounts of two wildebeest, a black and a blue, sitting side-by-side.

''This is what you see on the Discovery channel, migrating in the tens of thousands, across swollen rivers and all that,'' Jubenville said, tapping the horns of the blue wildebeest

A pair of pygmy antelope, an oribi and steinbok, also adorn the wall of the balcony. The animals weigh no more than 20 pounds and have horns that measure only 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 inches long.

''They taste wonderful but you only get one meal off of them,'' Jubenville quipped.

He's not done yet, either.

This year, Jubenville was supposed to travel to Kazakstan, part of the old Soviet Union, to hunt transcaspian urial sheep, but had to delay his travel plans because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In June, Jubenville will head to Australia to hunt banteng, a type of wild cattle, in hopes of adding to his wild cattle of the world collection. He has a desert bighorn sheep hunt booked for 2003 in New Mexico and he still hopes to travel to the Caucasian Mountains south of Russia to get a European bison to add to his collection.

''That would complete my wild oxen of the world,'' he said.

As for critics of trophy hunting, Waugaman dismisses them with a wave of his hand.

''I don't care what they think of me. We're all different,'' he said. ''After you pay for a trip and get a trophy you should be able to have it mounted.''

That's the same way Dave Lanni looks at it.

The 72-year-old Lanni, a former Alaska big game guide who accompanied Waugaman on sheep hunts in China and Russia, has been to Africa three times. He has more than 100 mounts in on the 12-foot walls of his 30-foot by 30-foot trophy room.

''When you spend the time, money and tremendous effort in sometimes life-threatening situations, you damn well better save it,'' Lanni said. ''When you take a nice animal you try to save everything you can because you're only going to take one.

''Trophy hunting is a very specialized thing,'' he said. ''You're taking the older animals that are probably at the end of their life.''

Lanni figures his trophy collection represents upward of a half million dollars.

''At an average cost of $3,000 a trophy, then the cost of the trip and the airfare, you can average out about three times the cost of an animal,'' he said. ''Some of the hunts I went on were $30,000 hunts.''

The money spent on trophy hunting helps conserve game populations and creates a giant industry in places like Africa.

''This way you can't afford to kill them all out,'' he said. ''Trophy hunting is what has saved our game animals. People have finally put a value on the animal itself. We have hunting around the world now where we didn't have any hunting at all.''

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