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Reno, NV (Feb 5) John Whipple, Safari Club International (SCI) President, and Mike Huckabee, Former Governor of Arkansas, along with many other member-leaders of SCI, officially opened the 41st annual Safari Club International Hunters’ Convention with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada, January 23, 2013.
The SCI convention is just for hunters but there’s so much more. There were auctions day and night, a showroom with wildlife artists, and exhibitors offering everything for the hunter. The days and nights were packed with famous guest speakers and celebrity entertainment. There were seminars of all kinds from preparing for your first African Safari to building a trophy room, all free of charge to attendees.
“We are hunters and we aren’t ashamed of it,” “we are conservationists,” said Libby Grimes, Convention Director, during a luncheon presentation. The statement was echoed by other SCI leaders during the convention. SCI members fund American conservation for the future and they also fuel the American economy today. Let’s take a closer look at America’s sportsmen and women.
SCI’s Foundation Humanitarian Services Programs are the true reflection of the hunter, giving to the community and helping those in need. On Tuesday evening, the night before the official opening of the convention, SCI volunteers fed a large group of hungry people in Reno. Sportsmen Against Hunger ™, through SCI Chapters, donate the fruits of their hunting harvest to food shelves and relief organizations. There are other humanitarian services provided by SCI’s Foundation; Sensory Safari™ offers hands-on learning to sight-impaired children and adults, with SCI members escorting them through a maze of displays of animal mounts, describing the animals’ size, sounds and habitats, giving many people their first opportunity to “see” wildlife through the sense of touch. Pathfinder Award Disabled Hunter™ Hunts for Warriors makes it possible for disabled hunters, wounded warriors, and terminally ill youth to participate in hunting experiences. SafariCare™, through SCI members, regularly deliver SafariCare ‘Blue Bags’ to remote communities around the world. The bags are filled with needed humanitarian supplies that include medical and school supplies, books, clothing and toys. For more information go to: www.safariclubfoundation.org.
Safari Club International protects the freedom to hunt but it also promotes wildlife conservation worldwide. Billions are spent each year purchasing land to hunt on, boats for fishing, shooting equipment, fees for licenses and stamps, all dedicated toward state fish and wildlife management, along with memberships and contributions, all fueling the American System of Conservation funding. Hunters live in small towns, large cities, and travel all around the world. This is good for the economy. The dollars in federal taxes paid by anglers alone in one year would pay the salaries for approximately 400,000 active duty privates in the U.S. Army. The economic impact of hunting and fishing in the state of New York, in one year’s retail sales from hunting was , $2,252,489,306.00, and from fishing, $2,696,583,564.00 (as reported by data from the National Shooting Sports Foundation and American Sportfishing Association).
The four days of the convention were busy ones on the floor of the convention center with attendees moving slowly up and down the aisles visiting with over a thousand exhibitors, including artist, gun makers, wine distributers, outfitters, and even jewelers. These are just a few of the outstanding exhibitors: One very popular artist, Laurel Barbieri grew up in the State of Washington, the eighth child of 13, where her family relied on the land through hunting. Laurel is a passionate painter of primitive wildlife and a hunter. To view her work: www.LaurelBarbieri.com. Another wildlife artist, D Nicholson Miller, introduced two new series: “Birds of State,” featuring state birds and other state symbols, and “The Urban Series.” To order from this fine artist, call 707-725-4349 or go to www.dnicholsonmiller.com. Joshua Spies, past Artist of the Year at SCI, and internationally recognized wildlife artist, painted casually during the show, creating a masterpiece while attendees of the convention looked on. He paints from real life experiences. To view and purchase his art, go to: www.joshuaspies.com. Last but not least, “The Art of Ryan Perry.” His wildlife art is so real you almost feel the breath of the lion, and you find yourself staring, waiting for movement. To see more of his work, or to purchase his art, go to www.ryanperry.com. These are just four of the many artists at the convention this year. Other exhibitors; Bob Hickman, saddle maker from Post Falls, Idaho. His saddles, pack equipment, fleming silver, bits & spurs and custom chaps, are one of a kind. His contact information; 1-888-397-2020 or 208-773-9367. Gregory E Laco, President Green River Stone Company, offered the finest in natural fossil art and fossil stone products. Stone deposited 50 million years ago has been unearthed and extracted by hand, producing individual fossil specimens for museums, private collections, interior designers, and architects. To view these exquisite stones www.greenriverstone.com. Many opportunities to schedule a hunt were available but one very special Wisconsin Sanctuary & preserve offered hunters and non-hunters a customized and private nature retreat or a big-game trophy. Owners Kevin and Ann Schmid can be contacted at: www.wisanctuaryandpreserve.com.
Many recipients received awards during the evening events including the 2013 SCI and Cabela’s Young Hunter Award given to Brooke Jordan, 19, from Cuba, New York, and Thomas Monarch, 16, of Louisville, Kentucky. Paul Ryan was honored as Federal Legislator of the Year. The New Super Pac: The Hunter Defense Fund (HDF) was introduced. Anti-hunting groups have spent over twenty million Super PAC and corporate dollars to oppose candidates who were hunters’ strongest supporters. In elections today the hunters are the hunted. The Hunter Defense Fund is the only Super Pac working to protect hunters and their interests in federal elections. The Hunter Defense Fund will complement existing PACs to focus PAC dollars on direct candidate contributions while HDF dollars can be used to fund massive Independent Expenditure campaigns that can move the needle in key elections at critical times. The Hunter Defense Fund is in prime position to have a major influence in the 2014 election cycle.
Guest Speakers for the Grand Finale Dinner, Program and Auction Saturday evening were the Honorable Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney. When asked by his daughter, Liz, to set the record straight if he ran the White House when George W Bush was President and he was Vice President, Mr. Cheney replied with a short story. His dog was banished from one of the meeting rooms at Camp David by President Bush because his dog was chasing Barney, the President’s dog, upsetting him terribly. That settled the question as to who was really in charge at the White House. Safari Club International’s 42nd Annual hunters’ Convention will return to Las Vegas, NV, February 5-8, 2014 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. For information contact: www.safariclub.org.
Brenda Hyatt – Freelance Journalist WorldNewsVine
Donald Scelzo – Freelance Photography WorldNewsVine