Safari Club Convention And Other Events Too? What A Great Week!

I received a press release announcing the 2022 Safari Club Convention has opened registration. It is to be held in Las Vegas on January 19th to the 22nd at the Mandalay Bay. Those dates got me to thinking about what else just might be happening at that same time.

I found this! The AVN Adult Entertainment Expo is being held the 20th to the 23rd at the Hard Rock Casino.

And this as well – the World of Concrete! Tools, trucks, mixers, oh, my!

Just kidding. I mean they are being held in Las Vegas at the same time but that is not really what caught my eye.

What did catch my eye and excite me is that the SHOT Show is being held January 18th through 21st at the Sands Expo Center. The recently opened Caesars Forum will also be the scene for part of the SHOT Show.

So this means both the Safari Club Convention and the SHOT Show will be in Las Vegas the same week. I really think this is great because it would be one airfare and one hotel instead of two. I certainly plan to go as things stand now.

I’m sure I’d be exhausted trying to do both but what wonderful exhaustion it would be!

Safari Club Cancels Vegas Convention

Safari Club International announced late yesterday that they had canceled their convention scheduled for February 3-6, 2021 in Las Vegas. They noted that the COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the State of Nevada and Clark County health officials made it impossible to have a successful event. Included in the Clark County restrictions reported on Monday, are a limit of 1,000 attendees or registrants for trade shows, conventions, conferences, and other large events.

Other large shows that have been previously canceled include SEMA and the Consumer Electronics Show. The SHOT Show says they still plan to go on but realistically I don’t see how. The Complementary Spouse and I are registered to attend as media but will likely cancel due to all the restrictions. Friends in Las Vegas also have told me that the hotel discounts along the Strip have attracted the wrong crowd and crime is up significantly.

From their post:

For 49 consecutive years SCI has conducted its annual convention, bringing together from around the world, hunters, exhibitors, conservation stakeholders, and generations of SCI members. This annual event celebrates hunter advocacy, raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for wildlife conservation, and enables the planning of hunts that further support conservation on every continent. It is one of the most anticipated gatherings of the year not only for the reasons above but also because it is the one week that our community can rely upon to renew friendships and reignite the fire that drives us all to carry on the traditions of hunting.  We did not reach this decision lightly…

Despite our disappointment with this development, SCI will be there for our members and exhibitors in 2022 to reflect on all these accomplishments and celebrate them together. The 2022 Convention will take place in Las Vegas and will be a celebration of our hunting heritage and the perseverance we all needed to get through this, together.

Jim Shepherd of The Outdoor Wire covered the cancelation in his column this morning. He noted:

As SCI and SCI-Foundation’s CEO Laird Hamberlin told me, “we couldn’t make it work with the box we’d been put into by Las Vegas, Clark County and Nevada officials.”

The box in Las Vegas is, indeed, a small one. Using its latest guidance, Las Vegas’ rules limit events to 250 people. In some instances, that rule can be maximized to 1,000 people.

SCI’s exhibition space alone covers 625,000 square feet. Each evening during the Convention, SCI holds banquets and social events routinely attended by as many as 2,000 people.

Considered by many to be essential elements of every SCI convention, they were non-starters under the Las Vegas restrictions.

Changing the dates, I’m told, wasn’t an option. Restrictions on crowds and uncertainties about international travel were also concerns.

Collectively, all the challenges and unknowns just made the kind of extravaganzas the SCI Convention has become, impossible.

Heavily impacted by this decision will be the guides and outfitters who would have exhibited. For many, bookings done at the SCI Convention account for 80% of their annual business. SCI, according to Shepherd, intends to expand its “Share the Impact” program to these guides and outfitters.

SCI Benefit To Support Outfitters and Guides

Guiding is hard work. While I have never gone out with a hunting guide, I have gone out with a fishing guide during the summer. One of my most memorable trips started at 8am and didn’t end until we got off the river at 11pm. I know it was hard for me but it was harder for the guide.

The pandemic has impacted and will continue to impact hunting guides and outfitters worldwide. I know people who have had to cancel trips to Africa and undoubtedly the pandemic will impact guided hunting here in the Northern Hemisphere.

To help mitigate the impact, Safari Club International is holding an online benefit that starts on Saturday, August 1st, and runs until August 22nd.

More about these event in their release below:

Washington, DC (July 27, 2020) – To support professional hunters and outfitters negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis, Safari Club International (SCI) is launching the Share the Impact Outfitter Benefit, a multi-day online charity event that runs from August 1-22.   

SCI is painfully aware of the terrible toll the current pandemic, and related restrictions continue to have on the professional hunting industry. These unprecedented challenges facing outfitters affect the entire hunting world and wildlife conservation worldwide, which is why it’s vital that we “share the impact.” 

In response to this need, SCI will host the Share the Impact Outfitter Benefit, representing one of the largest-if not the largest-fundraising effort from the organization in recent memory. The online charity event is dedicated to assisting the industry and will begin on Aug. 1 and runs to SCI’s Summer Board Meeting on August 22nd. 

“The challenges being faced by outfitters affect us all, and without our support, there will be devastating effects for the wildlife conservation movement worldwide,” SCI CEO W. Laird Hamberlin said. “It’s vital that we come together now to share the impact of the pandemic and support our guides and outfitters.” 

The program will include an online auction of donated items and unique experiences, with 100% of the net proceeds going directly to industry relief through outfitter associations. These associations can provide direct assistance to guides and outfitters, making the most of fundraising contributions for those negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. 

Bidding opens on August 1st. For more more information about the Share the Impact Outfitter Benefit, visit safariclub.org/sharetheimpact.

Outfitter associations include those in Canada, the US, South Africa, New Zealand, Spain, and more.

SCI Honors NC State Senator Bill Rabon

Safari Club International recognized NC State Senator Bill Rabon (R-Bladen, Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender) as their 2017 State Legislator of the Year. He was recognized for his work to preserve and protect hunting and especially for his role in expanding Sunday hunting.

From their release:

Safari Club International has recognized North Carolina State Senator Bill Rabon as SCI’s 2017 State Legislator of the Year. We are appreciative of Senator Rabon’s efforts to advance legislation promoting and protecting our outdoor heritage and tradition of hunting, our Second Amendment rights, and the valuable role hunting plays in wildlife management and conservation.

“We congratulate Senator Rabon for his outstanding leadership in the North Carolina State Senate, particularly for his tireless efforts to expand Sunday hunting in North Carolina and we are honored to present him with SCI’s 2017 State Legislator of the Year award,” said SCI President Paul Babaz. “Senator Rabon’s work has resulted in great victories for sportsmen and women and we are proud to have him as a leader for SCI and for all hunters in the Tar Heel State.”

Since his election to the North Carolina State Senate in 2010, Senator Rabon has been a champion for all sportsmen and women. He has advocated for countless pieces of legislation and has supported hunter recruitment, retention, and reactivation efforts – including expanding and repealing North Carolina’s Sunday hunting laws and working to make the right to hunt and fish a part of the state’s constitution.

“The rights of hunters are increasingly threatened and maligned today, but those rights are inextricably linked to the conservation of wildlife across the world,” stated Senator Rabon. “Teddy Roosevelt said it best: ‘In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen… the genuine sportsman is by all odds the most important factor in keeping the larger and more valuable wild creatures from total extermination.’ It’s more important than ever to stay aggressive and diligent as we fight to protect hunters’ rights. No one has done that as reliably and successfully as Safari Club International. I’ve long been proud to be a member, and today I’m tremendously honored to receive this prestigious award.”

As Chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, Sen. Rabon was instrumenting in getting H559 passed which expanded Sunday hunting to include public lands.

Sen. Rabon is also a stalwart advocate for the Second Amendment and gun rights. He is rate 4 stars by Grass Roots North Carolina and has a 100% voting record on gun rights.

Safari Club International Relocates Headquarters

While it may have no hunting season, the District of Columbia is where many of the rules, regulations, and laws that impact big game hunting in the US and in the world are made. Thus, it should be no surprise the Safari Club International has decided to move their headquarters from Tucson to Washington, DC. SCI made the decision at their recent Annual Hunter’s Convention. The move was effective on February 1st.

From SCI:

SCI KICKS UP ITS GAME TO PROTECT HUNTING

On February 1, the Board of Directors of Safari Club International changed its headquarters designation from Tucson, Arizona to Washington, DC. The purpose of the move is to focus and intensify SCI’s efforts on all forms of advocacy to protect the freedom to hunt, in coordination with other hunting organizations.

SCI’s CEO Rick Parsons will relocate to the SCI office on Capitol Hill in early April. SCI has advocacy, Litigation and communication units in that building. The SCI Foundation, which owns the building, houses its conservation department there. Parsons has a degree in International Law and has specialized in wildlife conservation issues. While working with the U.S. Government, he helped to draft and implement the global treaty (called CITES) that regulates trade in wildlife so as to prevent extinctions. Parsons has been with SCI since 1985. He has hunted in Virginia, Michigan, Texas and South Africa.

At the same Board meeting, the SCI Board applauded the new Advocacy Communications program of SCI that emphasizes an aggressive approach to outbound communication based on the theme of hunter pride. The goal of the program is to provide information about hunting to the vast majority of people who are neutral on the issue. The information will be designed to change the conversation by giving these neutrals something new to consider about hunting.

The decision to designate Washington, DC as SCI’s headquarters and to relocate the CEO was made in the midst of SCI’s 46th Annual Hunters’ Convention. The Convention is an extraordinary global gathering of the SCI family and hunting world. In all, 1,100 exhibitors from the U.S. and all over the world showed their hunting opportunities and hunting gear to more than 20,000 attendees.

There were seminars on hunting technique, ethics, legal issues and a host of other topics. There were side meetings with government delegations from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia, South Africa, China and Kazakhstan, to name some. There were evening events featuring fundraising auctions to support the work of SCI and its sister organization, the SCI Foundation.

Between them, SCI and the Foundation put more than $3.5 Million on the ground annually for wildlife conservation, anti-poaching, education and humanitarian efforts related to hunting. SCI also funds a wide variety of advocacy activities in the U.S. and globally. Next year’s Convention will be in Reno, Nevada on January 9-12, 2019.

Safari Club International Adopts Policy On Captive Bred Lion Hunting

The Safari Club International is one of the leading organizations concerned with wildlife conservation in Africa. They work closely with both African governments and game managers on issue related to the conservation of big game on the Dark Continent. Thus, when they adopt a policy concerning the hunting of captive bred lions, it is news.

Their policy, in short, is that they oppose hunting captive bred lions. SCI conventions, other gatherings, and their magazine are perhaps the biggest way that African outfitters reach American hunters. Given this, SCI’s refusal to let those who promote the hunting of captive bred lions to participate in those events is a big stick.

From SCI’s release:

Considering
that the practice of the captive breeding of lions for the purpose of
hunting has doubtful value to the conservation of lions in the wild, and
considering that such hunting is not consistent with SCI’s criteria for
estate hunting, the SCI Board has adopted the following policy:
  • SCI opposes the hunting of African lions bred in captivity.
  • This
    policy takes effect on February 4, 2018 and applies to hunts taking
    place after adoption of this policy and to any Record Book entry related
    to such hunts.
  • SCI
    will not accept advertising from any operator for any such hunts, nor
    will SCI allow operators to sell hunts for lions bred in captivity at
    the SCI Annual Hunters’ Convention.

SCI Sues Virginia Over Sunday Hunting Ban

Safari Club International filed suit on October 23rd in the Circuit Court for the City of Richmond challenging Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunt. The ostensible purpose of the ban on Sunday hunting was to give wildlife “a day of rest”.

SCI is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against VA. CODE ANN. § 29.1-521(A)(1). They allege that the ban on Sunday hunting violates the Virginia Constitution’s right to hunt provision as well as its Establishment Clause. They are also alleging that the law violates the US Constitution’s First Amendment’s Establishment Clause and the14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. They are asking that the law be declared unconstitutional and that its enforcement be enjoined.

SCI claims that the Sunday hunting ban is a remnant of Virginia’s “blue laws” which prohibited many activities on the Christian Sabbath or Sunday. In 1936, the Virginia General Assembly added a secular justification to the Sunday hunting noting it was “to give wildlife a day of rest.”

The suit says there is no scientific basis for giving wildlife a day of rest. They note that the Board of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries passed a resolution in 2011 urging the ban to be repealed. The board resolution said, ” ‘ [w]ildlife biologists with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries state that there is no biological reason to continue a ban on Sunday hunting. States that have lifted the ban on Sunday hunting have seen no impact on wildlife populations.’ “

Virginia does not prohibit the hunting of bear, fox, or raccoon with dogs on Sunday, merely their taking. Likewise, trappers are allowed to trap and kill fur-bearers on Sunday. The suit notes that many outdoor pistol, rifle, and shotgun ranges adjoin areas with wildlife. The suit points out this inconsistency noting that these activities “can and do disturb animals on Sunday, both during and outside of open seasons.” In other words, by permitting this, Virginia gives lie to its claim that it is in the public interest “to give wildlife a day of rest”.

As SCI’s release (see below) points out, Virginia is one of only 11 states that ban hunting on Sunday.

On October 23, 2013, Safari Club International (SCI) filed a lawsuit challenging Virginia’s ban on Sunday hunting. The lawsuit argues that the ban is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and the Constitution of Virginia, in particular because of Virginia’s constitutional right to hunt.

“Sunday hunting bans should be a thing of the past,” said SCI President Craig Kauffman. “Hunters have to work during the week, and young hunters are in school, making weekends the primary time they can hunt. The unconstitutional ban on Sunday hunting robs hunters of half their potential time afield, and has absolutely no basis in science or conservation.”

Kauffman noted that SCI anticipates debate over proposals to repeal the ban at least in part during the upcoming Virginia 2014 legislative session, and said, “As hunters, we are hopeful that state legislators support the Virginia Constitutional right to hunt and fish and pass meaningful legislation to repeal the ban. SCI will not formally serve the Commonwealth of Virginia until state legislators have exhausted their efforts in Richmond. The filing of this lawsuit marks our promise to pursue this issue through any and all available means,” Kauffman concluded.

In addition to the constitutional claims, SCI’s suit asserts that Virginia’s purported justification for the ban – to give wildlife a “day of rest” – is not supported by sound scientific or wildlife management principles. This misunderstanding of wildlife ecology was highlighted by Virginia’s Board of Game and Inland Fisheries when it stated , “the Virginia ban on Sunday hunting serves no biological purpose and is counterproductive to matters of game management.”

In polling conducted earlier this year an overwhelming 88.6% of SCI members supported full and/or partial repeal of Virginia’s Sunday hunting ban.

Eliminating the Sunday hunting ban will provide all hunters with an additional day to hunt, will encourage Virginia hunters to stay in state to hunt on Sundays, and will give out-of-state hunters the opportunity to visit Virginia to hunt on Sundays.

Only 11 states, all on the East Coast, currently have some kind of ban or limitation on Sunday hunting. Opponents of overturning the ban make baseless predictions of dire mayhem, but the existence of Sunday hunting in the vast majority of states proves that these wild predictions have no basis in truth. SCI hopes that success in Virginia might encourage other states to eliminate their statutory bans or limitations on hunting on Sundays. Professional wildlife managers should regulate hunting based on sound science and wildlife management principles, not archaic statutes that have no conservation value.