‘You Don’t Compromise On The Truth’

By John McLaurin, SCI President 

SCI President John McLaurin addressed thousands gathered for the Feb. 3 Dinner and Auction at the Karl F. Dean Grand Ballroom at Music City Center in Nashville during the SCI Convention and elicited enthusiastic applause for his forceful words about supporting SCI and opposing anti-hunters. Here is the speech in its entirety. — Editors

Hunter-conservationists, advocates for sustainable use hunting and wildlife, welcome to the greatest pro-hunting/pro-wildlife convention on the planet. But then I don’t have to tell you that! You’re experiencing it right now! Last year’s Convention was the best ever! But that was last year. This year is bigger, mind you it might be hard to say it is better, but damned if it isn’t outstanding!

The whole past year has actually been great, and the forthcoming year is going to be extraordinary. SCI is humming on all cylinders. It’s been a huge year for Record Book entries and awards. Membership is on a continuing upward trend. Improvements throughout. New business offices coming in San Antonio. The Hunters’ Embassy is a great success. 

You’ve been hearing about advocacy, and it is worth repeating. Advocacy protects and promotes your rights and allows for your voices to be heard. Its importance cannot be stressed enough. 

But first and foremost, thank you all for being here, for supporting SCI and making it all that it is. I would like to take advantage of this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding performance of the SCI convention staff, which is darned near all the staff and our outstanding Convention Committee members and volunteers who have directly and indirectly contributed to the execution of this year’s convention. Please stand. Please, everyone join me in giving them a well-deserved round of applause. 

To each and every one of you here tonight, thank you for being individually and collectively the absolute best advocates for the freedom to hunt and sustainable use wildlife conservation. Without you, there would not be an SCI, and SCI wouldn’t be the world leader in hunting-wildlife advocacy. That is not hyperbole, empty rhetoric or any of the other garbage that anti-hunting, animal rightists, and anti-SCI’ers put out. It is a simple fact. Who else has a Hunters’ Embassy, a multi-tiered staff of the best professional wildlife-hunting advocates — lawyers, lobbyists and consultants. An active network of active, involved Chapters. We all like partnering with other like-minded hunter-conservationist individuals and organizations. But make no mistake we will be there doing what is needed, individually and collectively, regardless. We are leading for sure. 

I expect you have noticed that now you rarely see SCI sitting back and waiting for some issue to blow over or to try to compromise with those who simply want to destroy hunting. We all know the only thing that has been proven to work for the conservation and protection of wildlife is sustainable use and key to its success is hunting. Why would you compromise with those who would not just destroy your hunting heritage but also in the process destroy wildlife? Facts, science, experience — they all prove that hunting and sustainable use are the only protection wildlife has, its only chance at surviving at all! And that is the truth. You don’t compromise on the truth.

“There are more and more people who think because they don’t like something, it should be destroyed, ended, terminated. No matter that facts and science support just the opposite.”

— John McLaurin, SCI President

The truth is so obvious, so why are there so many more court cases, legislative initiatives, public relations anti-hunting forays out there? Simply because there are more and more people who think because they don’t like something, it should be destroyed, ended, terminated. No matter that facts and science support just the opposite. Worse yet, they don’t mind misleading, obscuring or fabricating. Empty rhetoric, falsehoods, you name it — that is their stock-in-trade. What does that mean to us? It means that the demands on SCI and our Advocacy mission aren’t just larger today, but they are growing. And the prospect is that this will continue to grow. Maybe one day we will have aggressively defended what is right so successfully, the attacks will be diminished. That’s just not going to happen in our lifetimes! Unfortunate as that is, it is the reality. Demands on SCI Advocacy are going to continue to increase.

What does it mean for SCI? It means SCI is going to have to continue to build and expand. Texas Trophy Hunters, Cinegética, memoranda of understanding, Hunter’s Embassy, you name it. Whatever it takes! All are positive revenue generators. Nashville Convention doing well is a part of this. Thank you all again for insuring that this convention is a success. Members, outfitters, chapters, donors — we need and appreciate you all. 

Saturday is the biggest night traditionally for auctions. Please know that when you bid on the wonderful donations that are being offered that those donors are giving to a cause that is more than worth it. That cause is SCI Advocacy. If you purchase one or more items you are helping to ensure that hunting and wildlife continue to exist, plain and simple. You’ll have the satisfaction of participating in an unbelievably great hunt or owning something very special as well as knowing that you are supporting the future of hunting and wildlife. 

SCI often asks a lot for Advocacy. I understand that money doesn’t grow on trees but without your hard-earned dollars to champion for sustainable wildlife use and the freedom to hunt, the very foundation of what we stand for will be eroded. Some things, like paying off the loan on the Hunters’ Embassy, the Capital Campaign, as it is called, is about generating more funds for Advocacy. Some have said, “Then why buy it?” Well, now more than ever it is important that we have a physical presence on Capitol Hill. We were paying to rent space anyway, only now we own it. But why there, on the doorsteps of Capitol Hill? Lobbying is about more than just having the facts and the science on your side. SCI needs access to be able to show it, explain it and highlight it. SCI has to be there to do that. More so as a consequence of COVID not just security. 

Capitol Hill consists of several buildings that are fairly challenging to get in and out of. If you aren’t close at hand, you spend as much time traveling as you do just entering the buildings. Plus, if one of our members of Congress or their staff asks for something, SCI can provide it and explain it in person immediately. The Brachman’s knew this when they donated a million dollars plus for the Hunters’ Embassy building. Last night (Jan. 31), another $500,000 in matching funds! All without any tax break or the promise of a hunt or something else of value. It is great to be able to donate something for a conservation project and receive a tax break, but unfortunately you cannot get one for Advocacy. But just remember, sustainable use wildlife conservation wouldn’t be viable without hunters and hunting. Without them there would be no wildlife conservation projects to donate to and get a tax deduction. We do need to support wildlife conservation but please do not forget to support the Advocacy that supports hunting and wildlife conservation. Simply stated: No hunting, no wildlife to conserve.

Thank you all again for being here tonight and all during Convention. It wouldn’t be the greatest Convention ever without you. Enjoy the auctions tonight and the entertainment, the band Foreigner.

Lots of great accomplishments to celebrate together. God Bless. And Good Hunting.

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