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Las Vegas, NV (February 2015) Safari Club International (SCI) held its annual convention at The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino February 4-7, 2015. More than 25,000 attended with 1100 exhibitors from 33 countries and 6 continents. World renowned artists displayed wildlife art, taxidermists displayed their art, fine jewelers and furriers offered unique items for sale, and Gun Makers’ Village featured Europe’s finest gun makers and engravers. Hunts and fishing trips were offered during both silent and live auctions. Educational seminars were held during the convention including “Your First African Safari,” “Planning and Designing Your Trophy Room,” “Hearing Loss in Hunting and Shooting Sports,” just to name a few. In addition to the day and evening auctions, the ballrooms were filled to capacity with guest speakers and award banquets. Continuing the long standing tradition, Safari Club International recognized and honored individuals and chapters whose outstanding service and dedication to the preservation of wildlife has brought credit to the organization.
The “Night of the Hunter” awards banquet included “The 2015 SCI Young Hunter Award,” sponsored by Cabela’s. The criteria for this honor required the young hunter to be between 15-21 years of age, be a current member of SCI, complete the application posted on www.SCIFirstForHunters.org, compose a 500-word essay on the topic, “How I Am A Role Model for Hunting,” complete a hunter safety education certification course, obtain a letter of recommendation from an SCI chapter, and obtain a letter of recommendation from a school administrator. The two recipients for this award were Kendall Jones and Clayton Monarch. Kendall Jones, age 20, of Cleburne, Texas, is a sophomore at Texas Tech University and a member of the “All Girl Cheer Team.” At age 9, Kendall made her very first trip to Zimbabwe and has since traveled to Africa five more times. She took the Big Five her first time at the age of 14, and again at age 19, and is thought to be the youngest female to do this using a combination of rifle, bow, crossbow, and dart gun. Clayton Monarch, age 16, of Louisville, Kentucky, has hunted on four continents (Africa, Australia, North America, South America) and has taken eight Muzzleloader Top Ten animals. His most challenging hunt was his walk-in, muzzleloader hunt for free-range Himalayan tahr in the Cook Mountains of New Zealand. Clay is a sophomore in the Honors Program at St. Xavier High School, and member of the Ryken Service Club, Investment Club, and Medical Club. Clay, who aspires to be an Orthopedic Surgeon, has volunteered more than 200 hours at Kosair Children’s Hospital.
Funds raised during the SCI convention account for over 70% of the money raised during the year to support key SCI programs in Conservation, Hunter Advocacy, Humanitarian needs, and Education. The income from the auctions provides vital funding for SCI’s mission to protect the freedom to hunt and promote wildlife conservation worldwide. Members and sponsors donate items for auction and SCI members buy these items during live and silent auctions. Patron members who spend $15,000 or more at the convention auctions become two-year members of the Patrons’ Program, and are invited to the “Night of the Hunter” reception and Major Awards Program and given access to the Patrons’ Lounge.
SCI Foundation supports numerous conservation efforts and SCI-PAC was involved in 161 House and Senate races in 2014, 24 more races than the 2012 cycle. SCI-PAC’s success rate is an astounding 94%. SCI supports its members in many ways. Since the SCI record book was introduced, 24,700 unique SCI members have recorded their hunts in the SCI record book of trophy animals. Today, there are more than 173,000 entries recorded in the record book of trophy animals and it is estimated that only 40% of the membership documents their hunts. The SCI Hunters’ Convention is an event like no other. For more information about becoming a member go to: http://www.scifirstforhunters.org. The 2016 SCI Annual Hunters’ Convention will be held February 3-6, at The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas, NV.
Brenda Hyatt, Chief Editor/Journalist
Donald Scelzo, Photographer