Why I Love Our Convention

The first SCI Convention I attended — 40-some years ago — was a lot smaller than this one is going to be! But entering the floor was like walking into a hunter’s wonderland. Since then, thanks to one of the Gulf Wars, I’ve missed just one SCI Convention, and we all lost the ’21 Convention to a miserable little virus.

We’re not going to miss this one! All of our SCI Conventions are truly special events, but this one will be extra-special.

First, it’s our 50th, a huge milestone for any organization, celebrating a full half-century of service to conservation and dedication to hunting.

Second, the dread virus has rocked our world. Everyone has been impacted, some more than others, but a lot of us are ready to get back to our lives. Hey, our Convention is always buzzing! As we also celebrate coming through the storm, I predict unprecedented excitement and enthusiasm.

So, why is our SCI Convention such an awesome event? What I love most is the chance to see like-minded friends from all over the world. I make new friends at every convention. If you haven’t been to one, you’ll be amazed at all the wonderful people you’ll meet. For me, after dozens of conventions, I look forward to seeing so many great folks who, in many cases, I only see once a year at our Convention.

Sure, we can keep in touch by phone, email or social media. However, there’s no substitute for catching up face-to-face. And, if you’re like me, this pandemic was isolating and turned us into near-hermits. I can’t tell you how much I missed seeing people at our last Convention-that-didn’t happen. I’m really looking forward to this one.

The SCI Convention is the place to see old friends and meet new ones. But Craig Boddington says the No. 1 reason he loves it is because it’s just plain fun.

Although a good reason, seeing old friends and making new ones is just part of why I love our Convention. Want to see the best taxidermy and wildlife art in the world? Just cruise any aisle. I’m definitely a hunter, but I’m also a gun guy. Want to see some of the finest sporting arms in the world? SCI’s Convention is the place. And you can meet the artists and craftsmen who created these masterpieces.

This year, after our enforced break, I think a lot of us are ready to go hunting again. I hope so because, realistically, folks in the travel industry were probably hurt more by the pandemic than most businesses. Our outfitter friends, hunting consultants, travel agents, brokers, taxidermists need our business and support more than ever before. You bet they’ll be in attendance and, as always, our SCI Convention is the best place in the world to shop for your next hunt.

You can walk the aisles and find outfitters from all over the world. A lot of us do this by checking the directory for outfitters we know or have heard about. Others simply cruise the show, looking for destinations of interest and stopping to meet people along the way. There’s no right or wrong way to attack the Convention, but nobody knows everybody. At every Convention, I visit with outfitters I’ve hunted with — or would like to hunt with — but I also meet new ones.

Let’s not forget the auctions: Guns, art, jewelry and great hunts on every continent. It is, after all, a fundraising event and the auctions enable SCI to do our work and be First for Hunters. There will be day auctions, silent auctions and of course evening auctions at our gala banquets, along with great speakers and fine entertainment.

For me, a lot of the action is on the Convention floor. That’s because I’ve been an exhibitor for many years. My booth is sort of my office during show hours. They keep me chained to it as much as possible, so that’s where you’ll usually find me, unless I’m out doing seminars. The program is full of great seminars by top experts in a wide variety of hunting-related subjects.

This year I’m doing a seminar on “Bucket List Hunts,” great hunts on all the continents, in all budget ranges, that you should think about. I’m also heading-up a blue-ribbon panel on “Your First African Safari.” We’ve done this popular panel for nearly 30 years, SCI’s longest-running seminar. You’ll hear from veterans like Jack Atcheson Jr., Dirk de Bod, Marina Lamprecht and Ludo Wurfbain, with subjects including gear, shooting tips, travel, trophy preparation, what you should expect from your outfitter and PH (and what they should expect from you). If you’ve come to SCI to shop for a safari, you won’t want to miss this seminar.

For all our exhibitors, the Convention is work, and those are long days on the show floor. But, whether you’re an exhibitor or an attendee, the main reason we love the SCI Convention — and keep coming back, year after year — is simple: It’s fun! Sort of like an extended family reunion, except there aren’t any relatives we don’t like. It all starts Jan. 19 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there!–Craig Boddington