The recently concluded Safari Club International 2020 annual convention is still fresh in our minds and once again, there was something for everyone at the “Ultimate Sportsmen’s Market” held February 5-8 at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center.
Vendors from all parts of the globe provided convention-goers the opportunity to book hunts in exotic places as well as their own backyards.
If attendees were drawn to the more artistic side of life, jewelry vendors presented gorgeous wares showcasing wildlife themes. Wildlife artists were also on hand with award-winning paintings, carvings and sculptures.
Those interested in the finer points of the hunting world were not disappointed. Seminars on everything from Bow Hunting to Chapter Training to a Continuing Legal Education Course took place each day of the convention. TV hunting personalities Jim Shockey, Tom Miranda and Craig Boddington hosted seminars as well. Speaking of celebrities, keen-eyed attendees would have spotted Nick Hoffman of “Nick’s Wild Ride”, Melissa Bachman of “Winchester Deadly Passion”, Brittany Boddington, Pat & Nicole Reeve of Driven TV and Kristy Titus of “Pursue The Wild” among others roaming the show floor.
The SCI board meeting on Thursday morning gave the opportunity for members to hear directly from leadership. Reports from SCI President Steve Skold, CEO W. Laird Hamberlin and others were followed by committee reports. Particularly noteworthy was a presentation on the current effort underway in Colorado to introduce wolves into the state. Following that presentation several SCI chapter representatives and individuals made their way to the microphones placed throughout the floor and pledged support to confront the Colorado ballot initiative from around the country. The total amount raised within 15 minutes was $140,000!
Each day of the convention culminated with an evening banquet where attendees were privileged to witness the presentation of a variety of prestigious awards and hear from international guests.
Following each banquet was a spirited auction and musical entertainment including The Beach Boys and The Charlie Daniels Band.
While each day provided enough activities to keep even the hardiest convention-goer busy, the crescendo of the week reached a peak on Saturday when those lucky enough to secure a ticket to the sold-out Right to Hunt luncheon heard Kimberly Guilfoyle, the newly named National Chair for the Trump Victory Finance Committee. Ms. Guilfoyle regaled the filled room with stories about her hunting background and life with America’s most famous hunter – Donald Trump Jr.
The final event of convention, the Saturday evening banquet, had been sold out for weeks and was truly a star-studded high note of the convention. A welcome surprise in the form of USFWS Director Aurelia Skipwith followed President Steve Skold's address.
Ms. Skipwith's speech centered on the need to educate the non-hunter. 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.
The audience was then treated to a stellar speech by Donald Trump Jr. who had generously posed for selfies on the floor before the dinner began. Trump Jr. told the crowd of his own background as a hunter and conservationist. He credited 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 highlight of the evening was the evening’s premier auction item – a hunt with Donald Trump Jr. and his son in Alaska for Sitka black-tailed deer. The bidding was fierce, and the final bid was $190,000. In a surprise move, Mr. Trump announced the outfitter was offering an additional slot on the hunt and bidding began again, topping out at $150,000 and bringing a grand total of $340,000 for the first auction item alone.
For those SCI members who missed out on all the fun, it is never too late to start planning for the 2021 convention! SCI is excited to announce the 2021 Convention will be Las Vegas, Nevada, February 3-6 and will kickoff a year of celebrations commemorating 50 years of Safari Club International. Registration for 2021 is expected to open shortly so stay tuned!