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Thursday, February 22, 2018
Cost of spring turkey hunts on the rise

SCI’s Hunters Convention moves back to Reno in 2019
SCI’s Hunters Convention is the world’s largest gathering of hunters, outfitters, guides, fishing destinations, jewelry, hunting accessories, world-class art and taxidermy. For outdoor enthusiasts, this venue has become the “Greatest Show on Earth,” and this past week more than 20,000 sportsmen and their families jammed the isles of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Safari Club International was started back in the early 1970s when C.J. McElroy gathered a few of his hunting buddies together at a Tail O’ Cock restaurant in the San Fernando Valley. As SCI grew in membership across America and other hunting countries around the world, it was time to show case the world of hunting and start conservation and educational programs in the support of wildlife and hunters’ rights.

OLYMPIC SHOOTING SPORTS MEDALIST —Kim Rhode, multiple-time Olympic medalist, shows off the new Beretta Mdl.690 Victoria Sporting 1 grade over/under that she helped design to WON’s hunting editor Jim Niemiec. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

This year’s show was awesome, to say the least. There was representation from all the continents and the vast number of safari outfitters from Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Europe, Mexico and the United States was impressive. It was a gathering of shooting sports and big game angling outdoor enthusiasts. This show is open to the general public and in addition to being able to talk to the top outfitters in the world, there are many informative hunting seminars and the chance to bid on hunts, firearms and wildlife art that were put on the auction block to benefit wildlife around the world.

Not only does this venue open up the vast world of hunting, it lays a very strong foundation for hunter education and conservation. Western Outdoor News spent two full days walking the isles of this show and honestly, this hunting editor does not believe that was enough time spent talking with outfitters, guides and representatives from the many great destinations out there.

One major highlight of a Hunters’ Convention is to be able to talk to so many different people representing so much of the great outdoors there is around the world. One could only dream about booking a hunt or exotic fishing trip with so many options available, all gathered together in one huge building. Most attendees book hunts for the next hunting season and in some cases, hunts had to be booked two to three years in advance to secure a permit to harvest a coveted trophy animal. For sure, this convention does open one’s options to pursue the hunting or fishing trip of a lifetime. Being able to compare outfitters, guides, costs, and destinations before having to make a commitment makes for a much more informed decision.


By far, the greatest representation at this year’s convention was from Africa, while Mexico, New Zealand and Canada offered many options; and surprisingly there were hundreds of U.S. hunting and fishing ranches and lodges represented as well. WON had an opportunity to visit with many lodge owners and hunting guides over the course of walking the seemingly miles of isles that filled the convention floor.

Meeting up with longtime friend Wayne Long, Founder/CEO of Multiple Use Managers (MUM’s), topped off this editor’s time at the show, as we reminisced about the good old days of hunting hogs and turkey up at Dye Creek Ranch, elk hunts in Colorado and the famed Santa Rosa Island Roosevelt elk and giant mule deer hunting off the California coast. There was also time spent with Arturo Malo, owner of Baja Hunting, as we compared last season’s notes on pheasant, quail and black Brant hunting in Baja Norte. WON also caught up with Tony Punch of Rata Maire Deer Hunting on the North Island of New Zealand, only to learn that big game numbers continue to improve on both islands with many more hunting options now available as compared to this hunter’s last visit just five years ago. There were concerns shared with Joe DaSilva, owner of Cape Town Hunting Safaris and Tours, about the severe drought around Cape Town and the value of the rand vs. U.S. dollar. Western Outdoor News will follow up on the drought conditions in South Africa in the near future.

WON also spent time in the Beretta booth visiting with Kim Rhode, California’s premier Olympic Medal Shotgun pro. We talked about her next shoot and the introduction of the new Beretta Mdl. 690 Sporting 1 Victoria grade shotgun that Rhode helped design for women shotgun enthusiasts. Rounding out visiting with the above hunting friends was time spent with master guide Ron Gayer of Indian Rock Ranch, as we talked about the upcoming spring turkey season conditions and the number of turkeys along the foothills of the western slopes of High Sierras.

Now would be a good time to make sure you attend next year’s show that will be held Jan. 15-18, 2019 at the Reno Convention Center. Plans are also underway to move the SCI convention back to Las Vegas in 2022 for the 50th anniversary of SCI.

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