Jim Niemiec's Blog

WON News Column
by Jim Niemic

Passionate about the sporting life, Jim Niemiec has spent his life enjoying the outdoors, hunting and fishing around the world and as a writer he’s just as passionate about  informing the public of opportunities. 

Niemiec has searched out the best destinations and reports conditions accurately, but he has also  dedicated countless hours to conservation groups (national and international) in hopes of “preserving our rights and opportunities to hunt for future generations.”
Hunting, shooting and more at FRED HALL Long Beach show
It was decades ago when a show produced by Fred Hall gathered a group of firearms manufacturers, retailers, guides, shooting accessory companies and hunting related businesses to produce the first hands-on shooting venue in the west. While there was a lot of interest and the shooting bays at the old South Coast Gun Club were very busy, there just wasn’t enough participation to continue with this type of consumer gun show.

Boy, have things changed over the years.With today’s modern firearms and archery gear, a wide variety of AR style rifles, tactical firearms, an almost unending selection of accessories, along with a multitude of big game and upland game birds to hunt and outfitters/guides offering exceptional hunting opportunities, gun shows have fast become part of the American lifestyle.

FISH AND GAME HUNT WAGON — This old time DF&G wagon will be on display at the Long Beach Fred Hall Show. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

A few years back, Fred Hall Shows started offering exhibitor space to hunting, shooting, retailers and other shooting sports companies and today the Long Beach show will have no less than 30 exhibitors at this year’s show.

Just last month Safari Club International put on their Hunters’ Convention in Reno to the enjoyment of thousands of hunters and that was followed up by SHOT Show in Las Vegas that drew record numbers of manufacturers, dealers, distributors and members of the working press. For Western Outdoor News readers who missed attending SCI or were not registered to attend SHOT Show, making plans to attend this year’s Fred Hall Long Beach Show is a must.

Whether you are looking to purchase a new rifle or shotgun, book an elk, hog or turkey hunt, check on a gun safe, see what’s new in optics and shooting sports accessories or look over some fine hunting knives the Fred Hall Long Beach Show is the place it all can happen. Turner’s Outdoorsman will man a lot of floor space and have plenty of hunting and shooting products available to shoulder with a knowledgeable staff to answer questions. Make sure to stop by Jimmy’s Outdoors for some great close-out deals on camo, hunting packs and other accessories and learn more about hunting and shooting opportunities while stopping by the NRA or California Rifle and Pistol Association booths.

Oak Stone Outfitters is a repeat exhibitor at the Fred Hall Show and offers up some outstanding hunting opportunities. Under the stewardship of master guide Chad Wiebe, this guide service hunts on over 60,000 acres of prime leased hunting ranch properties along the Central Coast. WON has hunted with Oak Stone Outfitters for over a decade and can attest to the quality of the hunts and the high success rate afield. Whether one is looking for a big old Rio Grande gobbler to hunt, a trophy blacktail buck, mean old tusker or a record class Tule elk, stop by and talk with Wiebe about booking the hunt of a lifetime. Also exhibiting at the show and hunting along the Central Coast for hogs, turkey and blacktail deer are Avila Guided Hunts and Roth Guided Hunts.

RIMROCK BUCKS AND BULLS — Make sure to stop by and talk big game hunting at this booth. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIMIEC

Most show attendees will be looking to book hunts or destination fishing trips here in California and Mexico but there are many other exhibitors that offers a huge selection of options. South Africa will be well represented for those looking to hunt plains game, while elk and mule deer camps in the Rockies are options. Make sure to stop by the Love of the Hunt Outfitters and West Canyon Ranch booths to check on elk hunts in both Utah and New Mexico. One longtime exhibitor at the Fred Hall Show is Clark’s Outdoor Sporting Adventures and it would be worth the visit to see what kind of show specials this booking agent is offering.

This year’s show will also feature a large African safari display and other hunting/shooting exhibits. Make sure to stop by and visit with the representatives of Udells Guiding and Outfitting and Urge2Hunt to book a dream hunt.

In addition of booking a hunt checking out a new rifle, make sure to stop by and visit with exhibitors offering other services. The Front Sight Firearms Training Institute, located in Las Vegas, shoots on over 550 acres of range land and offers 60 different courses in handgun, rifle, pistol and youth safety instruction. All shooters, whether sport or bench enthusiasts, should check out the hearing protection a the SportEAR booth.

Rounding out the list of shooting related activities taking place at this year’s Fred Hall Show plan on attending the following events: The Evike Soft Air Range, the Umarex Air Gun Range, CR&PA BB gun range, California Deer’s Laser Shot game as well as the California Youth Assoc. laser shot game and Calif. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife trailer.

TURNER’S OUTDOORSMAN’S GUN BOOTH — Check out new firearms and hunting accessories at the Turner’s Outdoorsman’s booth. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

(Part 2 of 2) SHOT Show — Optics, accessories and more…
SHOT Show in Las Vegas, Nev., has to be the greatest venue on the planet when it comes to showing off the latest in firearms, optics, ammo and hunting/shooting accessories. It’s really too bad that this show is not open to the general public (restricted to those within the shooting sports industry, distributors, dealers and the media), but this hunting editor would doubt whether there would be a big enough convention center or stadium that could handle the tens of thousands of attendees. So, it’s up to us media folks to pass on a much information on what is new out there for 2019.

SHOT SHOW 2019 — Las Vegas again hosted this year’s SHOT Show; shooting sports industry’s largest venue. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

At the end of 2018 and for the 2019 hunting season, Bushnell has new Nitro riflescopes on-line. These scopes are ideal for hunters and precision shooters alike.

All 35 configurations are built to withstand every environment. An EXO Barrier coating bonds to the exterior lens surfaces and repels water, oil, fog, dust and debris. With fully multi-coated optics that deliver a bright high-contrast image with minimal eyestrain the clarity is amazing.

Trijicon Inc. show cased two new powerful rifle scopes, the 4.5-30x56 and 5-5x56, which resets expectations for flexibility and long-range performance. Featuring a powerful zoom that gives precision rifle shooters, long-range hunters and tactical shooters the tools necessary to acquire, identify and engage targets.

Vortex now offers its Fury HD500 binoculars with laser range finding ability. Also, from Vortex for this coming hunting season is their Razor HD Gen II rifle scope that provides long-range advanced features. The EBR-7C, HorusH59 and Tremor3 models are most effective in making accommodations for bullet drop and windage correction.

Hawks Sports Optics LLC will have on dealer shelves for 2019 a new precision hunting and shooting rifle scope. The new scope features an exposed tactical turret design with zero-stop, resettable and lockable turrets with state-of-the-art return to zero function.

VictOptics unveiled their new 1-6x24 rifle scope that has true 1x magnification and is ultrabright and clear. This scope also has long eye relief and a wide field of vision.

From Targetvision comes the Hawk Universal Spotting scope camera, which is the next evolution of digiscoping, turning any target spotting scope into a smart-scope in just minutes. By simply sliding a hawk over the eyepiece of the range spotting scope and then opening the Targetvision app on a smartphone or tablet it’s very easy to take the image.

New from Lica Hunting for 2019 is the Geovid 10x42 HD-R 2700 model, which achieves excellent contrast, transmission and stray-light suppression for maximum performance until night sets in. With 10x magnification this scope enables a detailed viewing and identification of game.

bushnellsnewnitroBUSHNELL’S NITRO RIFLE SCOPE — There are 35 newly designed Nitro rifle scopes from Bushnell for the 2019 hunting season.

Mojo Outdoors has stepped up its line of duck and turkey decoys that now offer a more realistic movement and life-like colors. The new mini-flags are sure to enhance any duck or goose decoy spread and believe me the Mojo Pocket Pick Stick is ideal for picking up spent shells.

MacDaddyCaddy introduced a neat multi-functional hunting cart that is ideally suited for carrying all kinds of hunting gear out to a dove stand or duck blind. Big tires make it great for traveling over mud and other debris, the cart converts into a hunting seat, it’s well designed and built, comes in a variety of camo patterns and weighs in at 33 pounds.

Duck Creek Decoy Works just developed a new motion decoy that wobbles, shakes and dunks its head in continuous motion. This electric decoy is restricted for use here in our California Pacific flyway until Dec. 1 of the season.

Leave it up to Primos Hunting to come up with new gear each year and 2019 is no exception to their line of hunting accessories. The Dogg Net Series from Primos are a neat collection of wireless game callers, they have a complete Topp Dogg wireless system, a whole new selection of box, slate and mouth turkey calls and stakeout camo blinds.

One of the most unique products introduced a SHOT Show 2019 is the new Zippo Heatbank 9s hand warmer. This neat little device is rechargeable which keeps you warm for hours. The convenient power bank feature recharges your USB compatible device, so you can still stay connected while enjoying the outdoors. Also, from Zippo is the new Heatbank 3, also rechargeable, that can radiate heat for up to three hours from a single charge.

Rocky’s new line hunting boots and camo clothing are great for western-style big game, waterfowl and upland game bird hunting. The Rocky Deerstalker sport boot is designed for hunters who choose to be continually on the move, the Rocky King Snake offers the ultimate lower leg protection when hunting in rattlesnake country and this boot is available as a rubber boot model (which is this WON hunting editor’s top choice when waterfowl hunting). Rocky also expanded its Stratum collection of camo hunting clothing to include a new all-season layered system.

KENT FASTSTEEL 2.0 — With a muzzle velocity of up to 1550 fps, this new shotgun shell from Kent Cartridge should offer up excellent waterfowl hunting results for next season.

There is some new shotgun shell ammo for 2019 that was also introduced at SHOT Show. Kent Cartridge has upgraded its shotgun shell line with the introduction of Faststeel 2.0 Precision Plated Steel line of non-toxic shotshells. The foundation of Faststeel 2.0 begins with the high-performance based-wad to optimize functioning in today’s most popular semi-automatic firearms, allowing for fast follow-up shots and ensuring consistent reliability. Available in both 12 and 20 gauge, the 3-inch shell is loaded with 1¼ oz. of shot with a muzzle velocity of 1500 fps.

For those planning on hunting the spring snow goose season, Winchester now has on dealer shelves their Xpert Snow Goose shotgun shell ammo. Currently this Winchester ammo is only available for 12 ga. shotguns in lengths of 3- and 3.5-inch with shot sizes from BB to 1+2 and muzzle velocities between 1475 and 1550 fps.

Federal Ammunition announced a new blended HEAVYWEIGHT TSS turkey load for 2019. This Federal ammo is a partner with the National Wild Turkey Federation. Two new sizes of shot are involved to increase overall pellet count and the number of hits on a target. These new loads combine No. 7 and 9 or No. 8 and 10 Tungsten Super Shot to deliver the extremely high pellet counts and dense patterns turkey hunters try to achieve. Both 12 and 20 gauge shotshells are now on dealer’s shelves, from 3 inch to 3.5 inch, with loads up to 2.5 oz. of pellets and they will be sold 5 to the box.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

(Part 1 of 2) Shot Show was all it aimed up to be
Despite a bitter cold temperature and howling winds blowing in gusts well over 30 mph, SHOT Show 2019 in Las Vegas, Nv., was a total success for tens of thousands of attendees. This annual event started out with Industry and Media Day at the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Club, where the latest and greatest in firearms, ammo and accessories were located in lines of shooting bays. Every major firearms manufacturer and representatives were on hand to help introduce new products and set up down-range targets up to 500 yards from the bench. While winds kicked up desert dust and blew tents and flags all over the gun range, it did make for a pretty good day to test one’s outdoor endurance in less-than-hospitable conditions. The blustery conditions really challenged a shooter’s ability to hold a rifle steady and on target or swing into a stiff wind at a dancing clay target.

ON TARGET WITH BROWNING — WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec enjoyed shooting the new Browning X-Bolt Mag chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor at the media day range in Boulder City. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

Western Outdoor News had a list of new rifles, shotguns and ammo to check out so it was off to the Browning canopy to check out the newly introduced X-BOLT MAX Long Range rifle chambered for 6.5 Creedmoor ammo. The ammo selected was 120 gr. lead-free bullet with BXS solid expansion and fitted with a high-power scope when hitting targets 300 yards down range.

This rifle featured a removeable muzzle brake that made for less recoil and very good performance. Most of the rounds fired hit a series of gongs and bullets that missed the target didn’t miss it by much, as wind gusts moved that light-weight bullet around pretty good.

The X-BOLT MAX rifle features a three-lever feather trigger that provides a clean, crisp pull with no take-up or creep. The alloy trigger housing contains hard chromed steel components and are highly polished on all critical contact surfaces. With a free-floating barrel bedded into the stock, both in front of and at the rear of the action, which makes for a maintained barrel to stock spacing, providing consistent accuracy.

Browning’s new rifle was a pleasure to shoot and the range person was very accommodating when this hunting editor asked for a couple of more rotary magazines to shoot at different silhouette targets and at various ranges. The popularity of long-range hunting has more shooters than ever honing their ammunition and rifle setup to help ensure that their shot at a once-in-a-lifetime big game animal finds its mark. The new Max stock found on select Browning X-BOLT rifles is designed to help improve shooting confidence to match the optics and get a repeatable stock fit. Outfitted with factory fiberglass stock this rifle retails for $1,199 and there is an optional McMillian stock available with a MSRP of $2,399.

While the bulk of the rifles being shot were AR-style black guns and those for tactical shooting and combat, down the row of shooting bays was booth #SR-53, and that’s where Brenton Premium Hunting Rifles was set up with boxes of Hornaday 6.5 Grendel ammo to test fire this new hunting rifle.

BRENTON’S NEW AR HUNTING RIFLE — Tanner Brenton was helpful in pointing out the many features of the new Brenton AR hunting rifle to WON’s Jim Niemiec. This new rifle, featuring a Leupold variable scope, shot very well at distant silhouettes and gongs. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

WON met up with the Brenton family and we talked AR rifles and their use while hunting. The following is what the Sr. Brenton had to say about the Brenton AR hunting rifle.

“Some AR manufacturers have taken their current Mil-Spec tactical rifles, decorated it with camo and labeled it as a hunting rifle. However, these attempts to disguise their tactical rifles in camo confuse their other-wise tactical-orientated customers. In order to satisfy the demands of serious hunters looking to leverage the benefits of the AR platform is the main reason I founded Brenton USA,” said Brenton.

Brenton went on to add, “Our rifles begin with what the serious AR hunter needs to be more successful and efficient afield…we are concerned with sound engineering principles and genuine improvements that add functionality when hunting, which differ from other rifles on the market that are based on tactical applications. We call this approach HuntSpec.”

The Brenton rifle this editor test fired a whole box of 6.5 Grendel ammo through was the highly accurate Stalker 18-inch Carbon Hunter fitted with a quality Leupold long range scope and gong targets were set up some 200 yards down-range from the bench. This rifle was one of the softest shooting rifles that I have shouldered in a number of years. According to Brenton, the 123 gr. bullet put down a 6X6 elk on a recent hunt in Colorado.

The Stalker 18-inch Carbon Hunter is the original tried and true hunting rifle used by successful AR hunters across America. The rifle features a camouflage free-floating match grade barrel threaded for suppressor use, hunting handguard, HunterSize controls and an MOE fixed stock. A bare rifle weighs 7.2 pounds and features a 5-shot stainless steel magazine and includes a soft case. Calibers currently available are 450 BM, 6.8 SPC II, 6.5 Grendel (LBC) and 223 Remington (WYLDE). At SHOT Show Brenton was working with a number of distributors and retailers to get this Michigan manufactured based rifle okayed for California sales.

New from Legacy Sports (HOWA) for 2019 is the introduction of the Pointer PhenomA semi-auto shotgun. Western Outdoor News checked out this shotgun with Andy McCormick, VP of Sales/Marketing.

“This new shotgun from HOWA is sure to be a real turkey slayer come the spring turkey season. Our pro staff has field tested this auto-loader, which is available in a number of different camo patterns, including an original Realtree camo pattern. Remarkably, the Pointer 410 shotgun will make for an ideal turkey load for junior hunters and those looking to challenge a big gobbler with a smaller gauge shotgun. We know for sure that the 410, loaded with new Federal TSS shot, can kill a tom running away at a distance of 50 yards. This shotgun weighs only 5.9 pounds, comes with a selection of 5 chokes and has a MSRP of $529.”

Retay USA unveiled the new Masai Mara waterfowl shotgun at SHOT Show, featuring a patented inertia plus bolt system, a very simple push button removable trigger group (Ed. Note: I have never seen a firearm that is designed so simple in taking the trigger and bolt out of the receiver for gun safety and regular maintenance). This shotgun is designed for the dedicated waterfowl hunter and built to perform even under the most extreme conditions. The bolt ejector knob is oversized and easy to operate even when its wet or a hunter is wearing gloves.

Savage/Stevens is celebrating it’s 125th year being in the firearms manufacturing business and for 2019 they will deliver more than 40 new firearms in many caliber or gauge options. This company is expanding and improving their popular XP scoped rifle line, have added a new lineup of AXIS and AXIS II rifles, expanded in the next generation their MSR 15 and MSR 10 rifle lines with new options built for long range, precision and competitive shooting and the new 110 APEX Hunter XP is fitted with a Vortex Crossfire II scope, features a floating bolt head and is available in 17 calibers, include the 6.5x284 Norma.

BUSTING CLAYS WITH FEDERAL’S NEW MINISHELL AMMO — Despite very windy conditions the new minishell performed very well shooting a Steven’s O/U 12 gauge. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

VISTA Outdoors, representing Federal Ammunition, CCI, Alliant Powder, Speer and many other hunting and shooting accessories filled a huge booth with new products including: rifle, pistol and shotgun ammunition in newly designed boxes, big bore and 22LR ammo, reloading powder, new Speer bullets with high coefficients and a polymer tip that improves low-velocity expansion.

Federal Premium introduced for 2019 a new minishell shotgun shell for clay target and small upland game bird hunting. This new ammo is a very short version of a standard 12 gauge shot shell and a whole box can fit in a pocket, taking up very little room and has a lot less weight. Got to be an ideal load for jacksnipe hunting wherever lead shot is still permitted.

WON had an opportunity to shoot this new Federal shotgun shell on the range with very gusty winds howling over the clay target course. Shooting a Savage O/U 12 gauge, this shooter was able to bust 70 percent of the clays thrown even though they flew irradicably. This new shot gun shell is currently designed for O/U supplication, measures only 1¾ inches, is loaded with 15/16 ounces of lead pellets and has a muzzle velocity of about 1100 fps. This new ammo should be available at dealers later this spring.

Hevi-Shot show cased four new ammos for 2019. The new Hevi-X Strut and Magnum Blend MO Obsession NWFT edition ammo should be killer shotgun shell ammo on spring turkey hunts, Hevi-X Mossy Oak should bring down big puddle and diving ducks at greater distances and the newest centerfire Hevi-Duty pistol ammo is sure to be popular on the range.

Aguila Ammunition is expanding into the US market with new rimfire, centerfire and shotshell products. This company has been producing ammo for decades at its factory in Mexico. This Western Outdoor News hunting editor has shot it well while gunning for ducks around the estuaries of Los Mochis, MX with outfitter Bobby Balderrama of the Sinalo Pato Duck and Dove Club. Currently Aguila ammo is being sold by Big 5 Sporting Goods retail stores.

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Jr. waterfowl hunts next weekend
Junior waterfowl hunters will be hosted by state refuges and duck clubs this coming weekend, which should produce some very good duck hunting for the youngsters. Hopefully, new flocks of ducks will arrive from the south, as has been the tradition over the years, and produce good hunting experiences for kids in duck and goose blinds.

JR. HUNTER WITH BULL SPRIG — Brently Vega harvested this big bull sprig during last year’s Jr. Hunt at Wister Wildlife Refuge. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARLOS VEGA

Wister Wildlife Refuge will be open to Jr. hunters for both shoot days Feb. 2 and Feb. 3. In addition to hosting kids for the hunt, a group of volunteers and supporters will be on hand to put together a dinner for everyone starting at 6 p.m. on Saturday. The event will take place at refuge headquarters off Hwy. 111 and Davis Road. After a day in the field all with gather for a duck calling contest, all will be fed dinner and there is huge raffle for the kids. Anyone who wants additional information on this great hunt or make donations to the event should call Carlos Vega at (714) 658-4658.

The San Jacinto Wildlife Refuge, near Lakeview off the Ramona Expressway and Davis Road, will host its 25th Anniversary Jr. Hunt on Sat. Feb. 2. Western Outdoor News checked in with Thomas Trakes, Wildlife Specialist for the refuge, to find out what is being planned for the Jr. Hunt.

“Everyone is working together to make this year’s Jr. Hunt the best ever. This refuge has been hosting Jr. hunts for 25 years and many supporters, volunteers, staff member and companies that donate to this annual event will be on hand to celebrate with the kids. Anyone that would like to donate giveaways, food or volunteer to help out at this great annual event should give me a call at (951) 236-3040,” said Trakes.

Trakes then went on to add, “The morning will start at 3 a.m. with the drawing for blind sites. We are planning on finding a duck hunting site for all the kids and their non-shooting adults. There will be a sweat-line so even those Jr. hunters that didn’t draw a blind selection number by mail will have a pretty darn good opportunity to hunt that day.”


In addition, Trakes added the following, “We are hopeful of no rain so that we can set up tents, tables and chairs in the parking lot. Breakfast will begin with a pancakes and then kids will be allowed to go to their selected blinds site. At around 11 a.m. all hunters will return to the parking lot area where a huge BBQ lunch will be served up. Walmart donated all the hot dogs and hamburgers, volunteers will be cooking up a big pot of pulled pork and there will be chips served. A lot of our regular hunters and those who have supported this event over the years will be showing up to lend a hand to make this a great day of waterfowl hunting for the kids. After lunch the hunters can head back out to blinds to finish off the day.”

There is a big concern on whether or not the Kern National Wildlife Refuge will be open on Sat. 2 to host Jr. Hunters. According to a short e-mail from Project Manager Nick Stanley, the refuge staff has been told not to work while the federal shutdown is still going on. Stanley is hopeful that the shutdown will end so that this refuge can offer a hunting opportunity to Jr. Hunters.

Raahauge Shooting Enterprises will host a Jr. Duck Hunt on Sat. Feb.2. This hunt will be limited to 20 Jr. hunters. The hunt day will start at 4:30 a.m. with a check-in and a selection of blinds. Around noon all shooters will return to the duck club hunt lodge area to be served a hot dog lunch and participate in a big raffle for hunting items and other good stuff.

The Raahauge Jr. Duck Hunt will require an advance reservation, will be open to boys and girls 17 years of age or younger, each hunter must have their junior hunting license and duck stamps and only steel shot will be allowed. All reservations will have to be made by email only. Emails should be sent to and should contain the parents name, contact phone number, and the child/children’s names and ages.

JR. HUNT AND GIVE AWAYS AT WISTER — There will be plenty of donated prizes for the Jr. Hunt raffle and give away at Wister, thanks to support from the duck hunters and company donations. PHOTO COURTESY OF CARLOS VEGA

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

Safari Club International’s Hunters’ Convention just awesome
The 47th Annual Safari Club International Hunters’ Convention ended a fabulous four-day run at the Reno Convention Center this past week. This unique venue show cased the finest in firearms, taxidermy and fine art, along with hunting and fishing destinations from all over the world. There were in excess off 1,100 exhibitors at this gala show with many attendees saying that the event was one of the best ever.

Western Outdoor News spent three full days covering the convention and still ran out of time to spend with many outfitters and guides and some of the greatest far off destinations where dreams become a reality at this venue.


Some of the finest antique firearms ever manufactured were on display and representatives from many rifle, shotgun, pistol, knife and ammunition companies were on hand to show off the newest in products for 2019. This show is open to the general public and from walking countless isles this hunting editor would have to state that this year’s show was well attended despite bitter-cold blustery weather on opening day.

Show chairman Scott Chapman summed up the show in the following words, “The Ultimate Sportsmen’s Market is the best opportunity each year to meet friends and family, browse the show room floors and attend a host of informative seminars. At this show, those in attendance can meet up with some of the best outfitters and guides from around the world who gather under one roof, a show-space that is bigger than eight football fields!”

WON’s interest in attending SCI biggest event was to gather information on hunting conditions and the status of wild game around the world. Of course, of much interest was the status of big game and upland game birds here in California, and our adjoining states of Oregon, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico.

Chad Wiebe, master guide and owner of Oak Stone Outfitters, (805) 472-2200, based out of Bradley, offered up the following about current conditions along the Central Coast.

“Recent rains have triggered an early growth of winter wheat/barley and right now fields are covered in green grass that is 3 to 4 inches high. It’s looking like this year will offer up exceptional breeding conditions for all wild game animals. I would look for the wild hogs to have two to three litters of piglets, and perhaps some sows will give birth to big numbers of piglets. Of course, upland game birds in the way of our native Rio Grande turkey and California valley quail, are sure to benefit and hopefully increase brood size as conditions continue to improve with more rain on the way,” said Wiebe.

Ryan Piltz, Hunting Operations Manager with Oak Stone Outfitters, then added, “As for big game we are coming off an excellent year of hunting blacktail deer, Tule elk and hogs and I think that 2019 will even offer up better hunting opportunities. The Rio Grande turkey population has bounced back in this coastal region and we are seeing paired up valley quail whose covey’s size come next fall could be some of the largest in over a decade.” 


HIGH-END FIREARMS — New and very fine antique rifles and shotguns are all part of the SCI’s Hunters’ Convention. This is a must see show for anyone interested in hunting, fishing or traveling to distant destinations around the world. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC

High on this hunting editor’s bucket list of future hunts to be booked at this convention was to finally book a hunt with Arturo Malo of for a season ending Pacific Black Brant hunt on the huge estuary of San Quentin down in Baja Norte. Fortunately, WON met up with Malo just in the nick of time, as he had a cancellation for the last hunt of the season, with one open spot, I grabbed it without any delay. Western Outdoor News will cover this unique sea going goose hunt in a column upon my late February return from this large hunting Mecca.

Checking on hunting around the world with outfitters showed some concern with how President Trump was handling international issues and conservation. While politics is not the choicest of all topics to talk about when there is hunting and fishing options to discuss, it seemed that most of the foreign outfitters and booking agents were okay with what our President is or will be doing about delicate and worldly concerns.

A first-time exhibitor at this year’s convention was the Baja Norte exhibit. WON stopped by and spent quite some time with Eloy German Moreno, Delegate to the Secretary of Tourism for the Mexican state of Mexicali.

“We are here to promote the outstanding hunting and fishing available on Baja Norte. There are many hunting outfitters, guides and fishing destination very close to California and we promote many of these businesses. It is our responsibility to make hunters and anglers aware of what recreation is available on Baja Norte and to provide visitors with the latest information possible to a Baja Norte destination. Of interest to your readers should be that they can now purchase a Mexican fishing license online by simply logging on to our web site at,” said Moreno.

There were many new hunting rifles and shotguns to shoulder, booths were filled with the latest in optics from Trijicon, Swarovski, Leupold, Carl Zeiss and Burris/Steiner Optics and the number of booths filled with hunting accessories, packs, and hunting clothing was simply amazing.

While this hunting editor has visited the dark continent a few times on plains game hunts around South Africa, the quest this year would be to line up an upland game bird and waterfowl mixed bag hunt with perhaps a day or two for inter-acting with the local culture and visiting a few of the great vineyard estates of this country. Hopefully the trip to this destination will come about over our 4th of July holidays, when it’s winter in this part of the world, and the Rand is still trading at 14 to 1US$.

The SCI Hunters’ Convention for 2020 will again be held in Reno and convention dates are Jan. 15-19. For tickets or additional information log on to the SCI web site at

BAJA NORTE NOW ON LINE — WON hunting editor Jim Niemiec spent time with Eloy Moreno, Delegate to the Secretary of Tourism for the Mexico state of Mexicali, at the SCI convention. Conversation on hunting options, fishing and the on-line purchase of a fishing license were the main topics discussed. WON PHOTO BY TONI NIEMIEC

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We hope you enjoyed this article on our no-charge website Of course, this site contains only a small fraction of the stories that Western Outdoor Publications produces each week in its two northern and southern editions and its special supplements. You can subscribe to the print issue that is mailed weekly and includes the easy flip-page full-color digital issues, or you can purchase a digital only subscription. Click here to see the choice.

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