After the rigorous judging of over 100 entries into the inaugural Rigby Dagga Boy Award, 78-year-old hunter, Franklin D. Cean from New York state was presented with the trophy at a small, but well-attended event on the London gunmaker, John Rigby & Co.’s booth during the Dallas Safari Club Convention (DSC) 2022.
Frank, along with his Professional Hunter (PH) Buzz Charlton, of Charlton McCallum Safaris, Zimbabwe – a qualified PH for over 25 years – were each awarded Rigby Big Game rifles in .416 and .450 Rigby, respectively. As Buzz was unable to attend the event in person, the rifle was collected by the outfitting company’s co-owner, Myles McCallum.
After many weeks of deliberation by the esteemed judging panel – made up of renowned PH Robin Hurt, Dr Kevin ‘Doctari’ Robertson, author of “The Perfect Shot” and Marc Newton, managing director of Rigby – a scoring metric based on the perceived age of the bulls and hunt difficulty was used to determine the winner.
For the avoidance of any doubt, as Dr Kevin Robertson was on this specific hunt observing, his score was not included in the metrics and Rigby’s MD Marc Newton had casting vote. Frank’s bull achieved the highest score from all entries, being awarded 4.75 out of 5 for the age of the bull, which was estimated to be late 14-years-old.
Commenting on his win, Frank Cean said: “I was amazed that I was selected as the winner out of a very large group of entries. It was a real honour to win such a fantastic and worthy award, for which I’m very proud. I was notified about the competition by a friend, who suggested that I investigate further, so I worked on my presentation for a few weeks before submitting my entry to the Rigby team and meanwhile forgot about it, until I attended the DSC Convention and Rigby presentation event. I was totally not expecting to win, consequently I was very surprised when I was announced the winner. For me hunting dagga bulls is so important because you are simply removing those which are no longer able to breed and serving no real purpose to the herd, so this doesn’t result in a reduction of herd size and in turn helps the economy, as well as providing a great meat source for the local community.”
PH, Buzz Charlton added: “I am extremely excited and honoured to have won what I consider the worthiest, dangerous game hunting competition to date. This award really has emphasised the importance of hunting good old, past breeding age buffalo. By taking these old bulls we are not in any way interfering with the herd dynamics. Not to mention the fact that these old whilly bulls have certainly stood the test of time having no doubt survived countless tussles with lions and hunters alike, making them the ultimate adversary. I really hope that this admirable competition will continue to encourage the taking of these old non-breeding bulls, rather than younger, higher scoring pre-breeding or breeding age bulls, as this will certainly benefit buffalo populations and ultimately the overall buffalo quality.”
Dr Kevin Robertson who joined Frank on the hunt, said: “Frank Cean, with a bad right knee, walked many miles without complaint in considerable discomfort to fulfil a life-long dream. Thanks to his grit and determination, Frank was successful in this endeavour. The bull Frank finally found and successfully hunted was unique and was seen to be hobbling along on three legs – while walking his right leg never touched the ground, and only when standing did it leave its huge and unique track. His right front leg had, many years previously, been fractured below the knee. The fracture never healed so this whole lower front leg was loose and wobbly. This is why no weight was ever put on it while walking and why it eventually expanded to such an enormous size. In the end it was ironic – an old man with a limp, in his fulfilment of a life-long dream hunts an equally aged and unique buffalo bull, which also had a limp!”
Discussing the judging process renowned African PH, Robin Hurt said: “Firstly, I want to congratulate Frank and Buzz on an exceptional hunt – both the hunt and the old buffalo bull were superb – very well earned! As Kevin couldn’t vote on this applicant because of his participation, we doubled my score, as this was the only fair way. Throughout the judging process, Kevin and my scorings were always close to one and other and there’s no question in my mind that both Frank and Buzz were the worthiest winners. What the applicants probably are unaware of is the huge amount of effort and time spent on this. Kevin and myself are both honourable people and have been fair in all our scorings. It’s important to recognise both the age of the animal and the difficulty of the hunt, which all scorings have been based off.”
Marc Newton, managing director of Rigby commented: “We extend a huge congratulations to Frank and Buzz on demonstrating their sheer grit and determination as conservative hunters taking this remarkably old dagga bull, passing up other opportunities at buffalo along the way. Not only was his dagga bull in the final months of his natural life, but as a wounded beast with fractured leg it was better for him to be put to rest. As a lifelong dream to hunt Cape buffalo, we were warmed by Frank’s achievement in this endeavour, especially at the ripe age of 78-years-old – showing that age is no boundary for those who dare to venture.”
To read Frank’s full hunt report, visit the Rigby Campfire.