Last week, SCI celebrated our annual hunters’ Convention in Nashville, TN, marking our 52nd year. The Convention supports our mission to defend the freedom to hunt and promote wildlife conservation worldwide, and we extend a sincere thank you to all members, exhibitors, and donors for making this possible. We also thank the dignitaries and legislators who champion hunting and conservation issues around the world. This year marked true dedication to hunting advocacy, as showcased in events throughout the week:
Proclamation at the Tennessee Capitol: SCI Convention began with our Advocacy team receiving a proclamation in the Tennessee State Senate recognizing and commending our dedication to defending the freedom to hunt and promoting wildlife conservation worldwide and celebrating our Convention in Nashville.
Ribbon Cutting: The official opening of the show floor on Wednesday morning was led by Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for the second year running. We are proud to call Gov. Lee a champion for hunters’ rights and thank him for his support of our annual Convention.
African Range State Representation: Canadian MP and 2024 International Legislator of the Year Blaine Calkins hosted a roundtable with African range state representatives to discuss the recent Canada elephant ivory and rhino horn import ban and next steps. Bans such as these can have devastating consequences for African conservation and communities. SCI was honored to host delegations from Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe throughout the week, as well as members and professional hunting organizations from many more African countries.
CSF Reception: SCI thanks the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation for once again hosting their reception at Convention and for their longstanding partnership in protecting hunters’ rights.
Friday Awards Night: The Friday night banquet and auction focused on SCI advocacy, with legislators from around the world in attendance. We especially recognize Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC) as our Federal Legislator of the Year and MP Blaine Calkins (Red Deer—Lacombe, Canada) as our International Legislator of the Year award recipients. The evening event also included a call to action to support our advocacy efforts on the frontline in DC through our Capital Campaign – watch the video here!
Hunter Action Fund Luncheon: The Hunter Action Fund (HAF) is SCI’s super PAC and the only super PAC in the country wholly dedicated to supporting congressional champions for hunting and activating pro-hunting voters. This year’s luncheon and auction, HAF’s annual fundraiser, raised nearly $300,000. It included a fireside chat with special guest Christian Craighead, who served with the British Army’s tier-one covert reconnaissance, counterterrorism, and hostage rescue unit. Read more here.
Saturday Night Banquet: Beretta’s exquisitely crafted SL3 Tutankhamon shotgun was auctioned on the final evening of SCI’s Convention in Nashville. We are incredibly proud and grateful to announce that this auction brought in $435,000 for SCI’s Advocacy efforts around the world. We extend the sincerest thank you to Alex Roy of EuroOptic for donating the amazing shotgun and longtime supporter Beretta for making this possible.
16th Continuing Legal Education Program: In partnership with the Nashville Bar Association, SCI hosted its annual Continuing Legal Education program on Current Issues in Wildlife and Hunting Law on Thursday afternoon. The CLE provides a unique opportunity for attorneys to fulfill their annual legal education requirements with a program that focuses on sustainable use and hot topics from experts in the field of wildlife law. Presenters included Mike Oropallo, partner at Barclay Damon and a member of SCI’s Legal Task Force, who spoke to the group about the Endangered Species Act and a version of Jurassic Park – bringing back the woolly mammoth from extinction. Cameron Schlagel and V.R. Bohman, from the law firm of Snell and Wilmer, presented on hot issues with the Second Amendment and hunting law. Kate MacGregor, former Deputy Secretary of the Interior and Deputy Chief of Staff of the Department of the Interior, provided insights on federal rulemaking and wildlife law. SCI’s litigation team wrapped up the event with a presentation on current and recent wildlife litigation and an hour of ethics. More than 50 attorneys tuned in online and in-person. SCI would like to thank all who participated, presenters and participants alike. We look forward to our 17th Annual CLE in 2025!
Government Affairs Committee Meeting: On Friday, the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) met in Nashville, TN during the SCI 2024 Annual Convention. Along with GAC members, SCI staff, and industry partners, in attendance were Congressman Gary Palmer (AL), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Bruce Westerman (AK), Alabama President of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Chuck Sykes as well as Canadian MP and this years’ International Legislator of the Year award recipient Blaine Calkins. The GAC drives SCI advocacy, discussing key accomplishments and strategies for past, present and future legislation concerning our hunting rights and responsibilities.
SCI-PAC: On Friday, February 2nd SCI hosted a reception in Nashville to celebrate the success and ongoing work of SCI-PAC, the largest sportsmen-led political action committee in America. Joined by a group of bipartisan, bicameral federal legislators, attendees heard about the work of SCI-PAC from SCI EVP Ben Cassidy, and the importance of political involvement directly from our champions in Congress.
State Wildlife Agencies Directors’ Forum: On Friday afternoon, SCI held its annual State Wildlife Agency Directors’ Forum covering the topic of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). Eight state wildlife directors and assistant directors, covering the continent from Alaska to Alabama, attended the forum. Representing the range from states with no CWD to states that have dealt with CWD for over four decades, the directors answered questions related to CWD management. The directors also identified areas where hunters could assist the agencies and concerns moving into the future. SCI thanks the state directors and assistant directors from Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Wyoming, and Virginia for participating in the forum.
Europe Committee: The Europe Committee hosted an informal get-together following the SCI Board of Directors Meeting, offering attendees the chance to unwind and chat about views, adventures, and future hunts. The casual atmosphere provided a welcome break during the busy Convention days, contributing to its success and ensuring plans for a repeat next year.
USFWS/USDA Seminar: Navigating USFWS & USDA Regulations for Importing a Hunting Trophy: Hunters importing a trophy must comply with federal regulations, including those administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Failure to follow these regulations can lead to delays in clearing trophies, or worse – their seizure! USFWS and USDA personnel presented a well-attended seminar aimed to help hunters avoid mistakes. Agency staff walked through the permitting and importation processes, and answered questions about importation of many different species, from waterfowl to warthogs. Agency staff were also available to explain federal requirements and answer questions at a booth on the floor throughout Convention week. SCI hopes these federal agencies will continue their engagement and attend SCI’s Convention every year.
Recognizing our State Champions: SCI would like to recognize and thank the various state elected officials who attended the SCI Convention for their continual support of hunting on the state level. These champions, and many others, are crucial in the effort to protect the freedom to hunt in the states. From Tennessee: Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton; Sen. Paul Rose; Rep. Chris Todd; Rep. Ryan Williams; Rep. Chris Hurt; Rep. Tandy Darby; Rep. Pat Marsh; Rep. Kip Capley. From Alabama: Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth and Rep. Danny Crawford. From North Carolina, Rep. Jay Adams and from South Carolina, Rep. Bobby Cox.
Be sure to catch the full recap video here – and we’ll see you at next year’s convention from January 22-25, 2025!