BOJC History

The idea of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock began to form when, in 1938, Joseph W. Brooks, Jr., J. Hammond Brown and Frank Burt Smoot launched a publication entitled “The Junior Outdoorsman”.  Published by The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association, the effort was directed specifically at young boys.  The concept of teaching youngsters about fishing and conservation of our natural resources was the groundwork for the formation of the Brotherhood.

Joe Brooks was Chairman of the Fresh Water Committee of the Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association while Ham Brown was the organization’s President. Frank L. Bentz, Sr. was Public Relations Director of the Maryland Game and Inland Fish Commission.

At the urging of Joe and Ham, Frank arranged a weekend outing on Maryland’s Big Hunting Creek near the town of Thurmont in Frederick County, Maryland.  Invitations were mailed on the letterhead of The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association to members of that group and to the Outdoor Writers Association of America, and other guests.  About twenty-five anglers attended the weekend affair held on the opening day of trout season in April.  The hardy fishermen overnighted in a rustic lodge still under construction at Camp No. 1 in the Catoctin Recreational Area; it did not yet have windows.  The gathering of anglers was so successful that it was decided to repeat the weekend fishing foray the following year dubbing it “The Anglers Campfire”.

Invitations were again sent to members of The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association, the Outdoor Writers Association of America and others.  Forty men journeyed to Thurmont, Maryland for the gathering held on April 21, 22 and 23rd, 1939.  Arriving in a late season blizzard on Friday, the snow continued into Saturday morning, depositing inches of the white stuff throughout the area.  Even with snow falling, three anglers, Talbot Denmead, Dan Holland and Clarke Venable, a noted writer about sporting dogs and a founder of The lzaak Walton League, fished Big Hunting Creek that Friday.  They came in early, though, because the fly lines froze solid with ice in the guides of their fly rods.  Retreating to the warmth of the lodge, they huddled near a fireplace at one end of the rustic building.

As the men sat in the warmth of the lodge there was talk of fishing and the perpetuation of the sport, the environment, and the conservation of our natural heritage.  It was decided that an organization be formed that would address the concerns of the group, and that the focus must be on tomorrow’s inheritors.

Suggesting that a committee be formed to draft a “Creed”, chosen were Clarke Venable, Dan Holland and Dave Roberts.  Their task was to pen the “Creed” on Saturday and present it to the gathering.  This irritated Clarke, who said he had come to fish, not spend his Saturday writing.  So, Clarke Venable sat near the fireplace and began to formulate the ideas and ideals of the group.  Asking for something to write on, Frank Bentz gave Clarke the only paper found, a brown paper grocery bag.  In silence, Clarke Venable quickly wrote the words of the “Creed” and asked the other two committee members to review what was written.  Reading the efforts of Clarke, Dan and Dave could offer no suggestions.  On Saturday the committee presented the “Creed” to the body of “The Anglers Campfire”.  It was read and accepted by all.  Not one word was altered; the “Creed” was accepted as written.

On May 21, 1940 the organization and name were officially voted upon and “The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock” was born.  A symbol for the newly formed Brotherhood was also put forth; a rare feather used in the tying of streamer flies, the waxed, golden eyed, black neck feather from the male Asiatic Jungle Fowl.

The 1941 Annual Campfire was the first gathering held at Camp Airy, nestled in the Catoctin Mountains above Thurmont, Maryland.  Brought about by Baltimore philanthropist Aaron Straus, he declared, “Jungle Cock will always have a permanent home at Camp Airy”.  During this Campfire the design for the patch of the organization was created by Gibb Crocker with the aide of Jack Bell.  A noted member of Jungle Cock at the time was Brigadier General Theodore Roosevelt II.

The Brotherhood treasury separated from The Maryland State Game and Fish Protective Association and The Outdoor Writers Association of America in 1946.  The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock became its’ own organization.

The Ohio Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was organized in 1948 as the first official chapter.

At the May 10, 1969 Campfire Colonel William H. Triplett authored and presented the Jungle Cock Prayer for the first time.  It is recited at each Campfire to this day.

The Virginia Anglers Chapter of The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock was officially recognized during the Eleventh Annual Banquet at the Willow Oaks Country Club in Richmond on January 25, 1972.

1978 saw the “Bridge Builder” poem, written by Will Allen Dromgoole adopted as a guide for adult members.

The Pennsylvania Chapter was formed and held its’ first Campfire on May 1st and 2nd of 1982 at Camp Saginaw in New London.  Ninety-one youth attended the two-day event sponsored by sixty-four men.

The Michigan Chapter was founded on June 22, 1984.  Dr. Fred Oswalt, Jeff “Bear” Andrews, Bob Julius and Jay Neve were instrumental in the formation of the Chapter.  Michigan conducted its first Campfire on May 6, 1985. The first co-ed Michigan Campfire was held in 2000.

The New York State Chapter was formed with a one-day outing held in 1997 at the Catskill Fly Fishing Center in Roscoe, New York on the banks of the world famous Beaverkill River.  Notable members of the New York Chapter include world famous anglers, writers, and fly tyers, Paul Jorgensen and Joan Wulff.

Jungle Cock has come a long way since 1940; certainly not without considerable help from many people, too numerous to mention here.  Hundreds of volunteers within the organization, and outside, have put in a tremendous number of hours to assure that Jungle Cock will be ever present.  They believe that the future existence of our world is in today’s youth, “tomorrows inheritors”.  Joe Brooks said it so well, “if I’ve taught you anything, teach others”.