As the 2010 recipient of The Conklin Award, Larry Boyd Higgins is joining a select group of some of the greatest hunters of hard to obtain animals in the world. The word tough is often used to describe the animals these men hunt. There is also no better adjective to describe Larry B. Higgins.
Larry was born on March 16, 1953, the younger of two boys, to Clifford and Frieda Higgins. His brother, Cliff Jr., was fourteen years older than Larry and despite his premature death, continues to be an inspiration and source of admiration for Larry. In 1965, Larry was first able to begin hunting in his home state of Michigan, but it would have to wait another year. Cliff Jr. was away in Vietnam, serving our country as a green beret, and it was decided by Larry’s dad that Cliff Jr. would be on Larry’s first hunt. A year passed and Cliff Jr. came home. Small game season was upon them and after careful instruction from his dad on gun safety and intense tutelage from Cliff on shot accuracy they took to the field. As Larry’s first pheasant was bagged, his brother congratulated him, handed him his pheasant and told him that “now you are a hunter.” Over the years, Cliff was constantly coaching Larry about shot accuracy and a special bond was forged, a bond that remains unbroken. It would be a few years before Larry took his first big game animal, a whitetail deer, and this species still holds a place of honor among his favorites to hunt.
Larry graduated in 1975 from Michigan State University with degrees in criminal justice and business. While in college Larry also continued to excel athletically, playing football and hockey. Upon graduation, Larry began work as a police officer in the city of Detroit. For fourteen years Larry held a very dangerous occupation and retired to concentrate his efforts in a tube fabrication and manufacturing business. His strong work ethic and commitment to precision construction enabled the H-H Tube and Manufacturing Company to prosper and for more than three decades Larry’s work was highly regarded and desired.
Larry’s first hunt outside of the United States was in 1984. It was a trip to British Columbia for elk and it was successful with Larry taking a big six-point bull. This began a quest for Larry, a challenge to take all of the animals of North America. In the 1980s and 1990s, Larry hunted at an amazing pace, taking many of the continents greatest species and leaving few animals un-hunted. His collection includes all of the elk with many duplicates, a dozen black bear including several with a bow, seven mule deer including two desert mule deer, and dozens of his beloved whitetail deer taken with a rifle, bow, and muzzleloader. Larry has taken all of the North American sheep for a Grand Slam, including a tremendous Rocky Mountain and desert bighorn and a superb California bighorn. In Mexico, Larry was even persistent enough to take a white-lipped peccary, a red brocket deer and a Yucatan gray-brown brocket deer. To date, he has taken every species available in North America except polar bear and walrus.
Although Larry has continued to hunt extensively in North America, in 2000 he turned his focus elsewhere. Africa was calling and Larry answered that call with his trademark workman-like attitude. Aside from one brief trip to South Africa in 1994, in the last nine years, Larry has hunted virtually all of Africa’s hardest to get and premier species. Larry has been on more than fifteen safaris to eight different countries. He has taken the Big Five with several Cape buffalo and has also taken the nine spiral horned antelope of Africa, and he did not stop there. Larry has taken almost all of the spiral horned sub-species, lacking only the western and Abyssinian greater kudu and the Sesse Island sitatunga. His bongo, Lord Derby eland, and Zambezi sitatunga are particularly good and he was the first hunter in almost thirty years to take a Nile buffalo in Uganda. He has taken all of the eland and bushbuck sub-species and several pygmy antelope including the seldom-obtained East African suni and Bates pygmy antelope. Recently, he was in Ghana where he shot a royal antelope, only to have it stolen by a civit during its recovery. He already has another trip planned.
In South America Larry has hunted virtually all of the toughest species and he has done it on his terms, free range. In the South Pacific, he lacks only the whitetail deer and sambar to have this entire regions species.
Of all of his hunting accomplishments, Larry is perhaps best known for his mountain hunting, specifically in Asia. Larry has taken more than thirty different species of sheep, and more than twenty capra species. This feat has only been completed by ten other people. In total, he has thirty-two different species with thirty-seven different specimens of sheep. He has twenty-three different capra species with twenty-four different specimens. In Europe, Larry has taken all of the mountain game available. His worldwide capra collection includes all of the huntable ibex and all of the huntable chamois species. He has taken the Mid Caucasian and Dagestan tur, the Afghan and Punjab urial, a free range Konya mouflon, all of the Russian snow sheep except the Putorana, the Severtzov argali, a Marco Polo argali, a Hume argali, and all of the blue sheep including two Himalayan, the Helan Shan, and the dwarf blue sheep. Amazingly, all of Larry’s Asian and European mountain hunts have occurred in the last eleven years. To average five sheep or carpa specimens a year is utterly remarkable.
To give one an idea of Larry’s fortitude and toughness, it should be mentioned that his latest hunt was in September of 2009 for Kolyma and Yakutia snow sheep. His month long hunt was successful and he was able to take each sheep. Less than two months prior to these hunts, Larry had back surgery to remove and repair two cervical discs that were damaged during his college football career.
Larry received SCI’s Crowning Achievement Award in 2005, the World Hunting Award in 2007, and the World Hunting and Conservation Award in 2009. He has been a past president of the Mid-Michigan Chapter of SCI, a regional representative, and currently serves as a director-at-large. He is a life or regular member of Safari Club International, Grand Slam Club/Ovis, Wild Sheep Foundation, National Rifle Association, North American Hunting Club, and recently joined Dallas Safari Club.
Larry feels that as important as it is to be a hunter, it is equally important to be a conservationist. He has volunteered his time and leadership skills by serving in different positions for many national and local conservation organizations. He has also financially contributed to several organizations in substantial and meaningful ways. Larry was a major contributor to the Mongolian Argali Research Initiative. The funds Larry directly donated through Dr. Mike Frisina enabled them to perform research that helped establish sustainable use in the successful Argali Lawsuit. Larry also owns a ranch in Michigan where he provides several youth hunts per year for under-privileged children. The ranch also annually provides more than two thousand pounds of venison to the Sportsmen Against Hunger program in his area. Larry believes in a simple hunting code: hunt ethically, be courteous in the field, leave it better than you found it, and be a proper steward of our sport.
Larry still has many hunting goals. He loves jungle hunting for the pygmy antelope, wants to hunt more sheep and capra species, and will hunt his beloved whitetail deer everywhere they are found. Along with Cindy, his loving and supportive wife of fifteen years, Larry can always be found searching the world for adventures. Larry B. Higgins is indeed a very “tough hunter” and a worthy recipient of the 2010 Conklin Award.