The evening began with opening remarks from SCI/SCIF CEO Laird Hamberlin, then moved on to the awards of the night. Britanny Longoria presented the Cabela’s Young Hunter Awards to Kenia Link and Zackary Corr and then the Federal Legislator of the Year Award was presented to Congressman Jeff Duncan of South Carolina’s Third District.
Susan Hayes received the Diana Award for her dedication to SCI and its ongoing education and conservation programs. Past President Craig Kauffman received the Hall Of Fame Award in recognition of his years of service to SCI and its ideals.
A welcome surprise in the form of USFWS Director Aurelia Skipwith followed President Steve Skold’s address. Ms. Skipwith’s speech followed the unofficial theme of the evening, centering on the need to educate the non-hunter or as one member referred to them, the agnostic hunters. She spoke of her grandfather who had introduced her to the world of hunting and fishing and stated he would be proud that she was speaking to such a large group of like-minded individuals.
Keynote speaker Donald Trump Jr. wowed the crowd throughout the evening, generously posing for selfies on the floor before the dinner began and then galvanizing the crowd with his speech. With a mix of humor and seriousness, he spoke of his unlikely beginnings as a “son of a New York billionaire” to the world of the outdoors in general and hunting in particular.
He revealed that his maternal grandfather took him to Communist Czechoslovakia in summers to teach him the basics of woodcraft and expose him to the harsh realities of other, less fortunate parts of the world. He credits a teacher at his private school for mentoring him in the skills of hunting and sparking the passion he continues to follow, despite his many vocal critics.
The momentum from his speech helped propel the evening’s premier auction item, a hunt with Donald Trump Jr. and his son in Alaska for Sitka black-tailed deer, to astronomical levels. Once the bidding started, the price rose dramatically, topping out at $190,000.
The SCI Convention will be moving back to Las Vegas Nevada for 2021 and 2022 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Safari Club International and the 50th Anniversary of the SCI Annual Convention respectively.