RENO. NV - Tens of thousands of hunters, sportsmen and outdoor families attended this year's Safari Club International's Hunters' Convention and it was truly an outstanding venue for anyone looking for a hunting/fishing destination, the latest in firearms and hunting accessories, looking at fantastic taxidermy and wildlife art and an opportunity to meet outfitters, guides and lodge owners to talk about future trips in the wild world of hunting and other outdoor activities.BOOKING A HUNT TO SASKATCHEWAN - Hunters and fishermen talked with outfitters and guides about booking a trip at the SCI Hunters' Convention last week in Reno. Larry Thompson of Anaheim spent a lot of time talking with Hal Stupnikoff, Executive Director of the Saskatchewan Outfitters Association. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC PLENTY OF FINE SHOTGUNS AT SCI-RENO - There were racks and displays of fine shotguns, rifles and pistols at the Hunters' Convention. Just about every major manufacturer had a booth, there were plenty of hunting accessories on display and the show featured the finest in hunting, outfitters, lodges, guides, destinations along with anything a hunter could dream of. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIECGREAT TAXIDERMY ON DISPLAY - Just about everywhere on the show room floor of the Hunters Convention were very realistic mounts of big game animals that made for a wonderful setting for those visiting the annual show in Reno. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC
Western Outdoor News spent two days at the Reno Convention Center to cover the show room floor that was filled to over-flowing by more than 2,000 booths and this hunting editor probably could have filled another full day of show going, if it had not been for some air traffic problems created by the arctic storm that dumped heavy snow, thundering rain and strong winds on to the entire west coast. Prior to the opening of SCI-Reno, WON spent the evening at the 53rd Annual Weatherby Big Game award presentation, that was hosted by the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino, with nearly 500 of the world's finest big game hunters in the world in attendance.
The Hunters' Convention opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony as SCI President Dr. Larry Rudolph joined Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour at the entrance to the huge convention center as the doors swung open and soon isles of the show room were filled with enthusiastic sportsmen.
The SCI Hunters' Convention is open to the general shooting public, whereas SHOT Show that was being held simultaneously in Las Vegas, is a dealer show with the average hunter not allowed to enter the show without pre-approved credentials.(More on SHOT Show in future editions) WON had promoted the show prior its 4 day run this past week and none of the Western Outdoor News readers that this editor talked with at the show were the least bit disappointed in the event.
"This is a great show to meet old friends, book a hunt or fishing trip, see some of the world's finest art and bronzes and just have a good time sharing your interest in the great world of hunting with others that share the same interests. The booths are fantastic, I had a chance to check out all the new rifles and shotguns that have been introduced for 2010, talk to reps about the latest in ballistics, cooper bullets and see many of my old friends in the shooting and tourism industry that I worked with back in the days that I was responsible for marketing and promotions of Weatherby rifles and shotguns," said Larry Thompson of Anaheim.
Of special interest to this hunting editor were the many fine shotguns on display consisting of antique, current manufacturer's guns and of course the high-end shotguns from Purdey, Fabbri, Berretta, Verney-Carron and many more. I often complain to my wife Toni when we go shopping that she has to touch everything, well at the Hunters' Convention I wanted to get the feel of every shotgun, rifle or pistol on display and had to be reminded many, many times by Toni "do not touch" as she pointed to signs on the display table.
Prior to opening day of the show SCI hosted a Feed The Hungry dinner that fed nearly 2,000 folks that were a little down on their luck. The Sportsman Against Hunger program helped serve a meal consisting of elk meatloaf, salad, mixed veggies, mashed potatoes, bread and cake for desert, which was served up by SCI volunteers and other local supporters of the program. Of special interest, in light that the elk hunting program at Santa Rosa Island will be entirely shutdown by 2011, was the fact the Multiple Use Managers (MUM) who manages the hunting operation on the island donated over 800 pounds of prime elk meat for the free dinner.
WON had an opportunity to visit with many lodges, outfitters and guides that advertise in Western Outdoor News over the course of the year, and most all were optimistic about bookings and continued strong firearms sales this year.
"As you can see from all the people in our booth there is strong interest in our line of handguns, i-Bolt big game rifles, Elite series of shotguns and the new M&P series of semi-automatic AR-15 style rifles are all getting a lot of attention from show attendees. I would say that we are looking ahead to another strong year of sales now that production has caught up with demand for the time being and there appears to be an ample supply of ammo on the dealers' shelves, said Bill Garcia, District Sales Manager for Smith & Wesson.
Many sportsmen head to the SCI-Reno show to book hunts and talk to outfitters and guides about options for next season, not only for hunts within California, but also those who are looking for an all-inclusive safari package elsewhere in the world.
"Most of the hunters that stop by the booth are looking to maximize their time in New Zealand with trips to both North and South Island and to mix in some great trout fishing and bird hunting with a big game hunt. This country offers such a vast variety of hunts and other outdoor adventures, and with the New Zealand dollar trading much better than the Rand or Euro, we are seeing a lot more people booking multi-destination hunts to the South Pacific," said Tony Punch, owner/outfitter for Rata Marie.
In addition to rifles, shotguns, lodges and safaris the Hunters' Convention also show cased the latest in optics. Just about every manufacturer was represented at SCI-Reno with names like Trijicon, Nikon, Zeiss, Swarovski, Bushnell, Weaver, Leupold and Lecia topping the list of big displays both of scopes, range finders and binoculars.
"Trijicon has been very strong in the optics market and this year we have upgraded many of our scopes and greatly enhanced our optics. We pride ourselves in offering the hunting/shooting public, armed forces and law enforcement with "brilliant aiming solutions", and in keeping with Trijicon's vision of being guided by our values, we will continue to be a leader in the design and manufacture of high quality, innovative sighting systems for use by law enforcement, military and individual customers," stated Andrew Chilkiewicz, Marketing Manager for Trijicon.
WON helps promote the SCI Hunters' Convention and this year there were prizes awarded to those who booked advance tickets through the SCI web site using the WON code at the end of the e mail address. Next year Reno will again host the convention and the dates are set for Jan. 26-29, 2011, so make plans on attending this awesome display of the world of hunting!