by Karen Mehall Phillips - Wednesday, January 9, 2019
How many things can you do at a Safari Club International (SCI) show? If you’re at the 47th Annual SCI Hunters’ Convention here at the Reno Sparks Convention Center, Jan. 9-12, the answer is 1,000-plus. That’s a conservative figure if you visit the well-over-900 exhibitors, attend the special events, enjoy a few of the 50 free hunting seminars and participate in the live and silent auctions for hunts, firearms and gear. And don’t forget to count the people you meet. For me, today’s new friend is Chris Comer, who earned his doctorate in the study of white-tailed deer ecology and management at University of Georgia and is now director of Conservation for the SCI Foundation (SCIF).
Comer, who joined SCIF in July talked with attendees about the SCIF’s mission, which is to fund and direct science-based programs dedicated to wildlife conservation. As with the National Rifle Association and like-minded organizations focused on securing wildlife into the future, he said the objective is to foster the sustainable use of our renewable wildlife resources. American hunters know it is the “science-based” criteria that is most relevant because using science is the only way to make sure we truly are aiding the wildlife species’ we seek to help.
Comer said more than $70 million has been raised for SCIF projects worldwide since 2000. Accounting for an impressive 100 programs in nearly 30 countries, projects currently range from North American mule deer, elk and predator studies to anti-poaching initiatives and from lion surveys in Africa to the development of a community-based sustainable-use organization in Asia to provide incentives to local populations to conserve their lands for wildlife.
For some NRA news here at the SCI show, be on the lookout for NRA President Lt. Col. Oliver North, who is signing books in the exhibit hall this afternoon. North also is helping SCI kick off opening night of the 2019 SCI Hunters’ Convention by serving as the headlining speaker for tonight’s banquet.
Sad News Reaches the Hunting Community
Unfortunately, not every conversation is a happy one when there is sad news to share. According to SCI, master craftsman and 30-plus year veteran of the SCI show, Tom Julian of Julian & Sons, passed away in a tragic accident on his way to the show in Reno. Those who knew him and the work of Julian and Sons know the hallmark of the company continues to be excellence in the design of world-class trophy rooms through traditional cabinet-making and woodworking technology using the highest-quality woods worldwide. For decades, the company has understood that a trophy room is a personal place—a visible and unique reflection of its owner, a display of one’s passions and an artful indoor presentation of a cherished outdoor lifestyle.
In the words of Tom Julian, “What we really do is help people tell their stories. We create a place where they can display the things they love: art, taxidermy, firearms, artifacts or books. … That’s because we work so closely with our clients and their team of professionals to make sure every detail is just right. For me, probably the most rewarding aspect is seeing people respond to the space when it is complete.” Memorial services are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 12, in Julian’s hometown of Heber Springs, Ark.
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