Jefferson

It’s been called “The Greatest Hunters’ Convention on the Planet” by Jay Cox and “The Greatest Family Reunion on the Planet” by my friend, Larry Weishuhn, whom I quoted in this column on Nov. 7. (see “Want Larger Antlers?)

They’re possibly both right. There are elaborate hunting exhibits elsewhere presented by Safari Club International and the NRA, but everything is bigger and usually better in Texas. And those other exhibits aren’t exactly within an easy drive for Texans.

On this coming weekend, Jan. 9-12, all roads lead to Dallas and the Dallas Safari Club’s (DSC) Annual Convention and Exhibit at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, 650 South Griffin St. 

I’ll be there Saturday but be advised that it’s hard to see all the exhibits in a single-shot day. A double-barrel adventure ticket lets you see more, but many prefer attending all four days to see all exhibits and rendezvous with old friends. It’s a full bag of activities, all flavored with international and Texas hunting and the “essentials” associated with it.

By essentials, I mean everything hunters feel they need from fine crafted guns, clothing, lodging, hunting advice, transportation and vehicles to some of the world’s leading taxidermists and wildlife artists. One of my favorites is Clint Orms Silversmiths from Ingram, but I mentally drool over the exquisite firearms and hunting opportunities as well.

The word “Safari” conjures up images of the African veldt and the writings of Hemingway, Ruark, Capstick and Roosevelt, but don’t let that discourage attendance. The “green hills of Texas” and other North American hunting destinations are also represented in this mammoth exhibition.

The theme of the event this year is “Heritage” -- an aspect those opposed to hunting just don’t understand or consider. It’s part of that undefinable ingredient of hunting that lives in each participant. 

Personally, it’s the mystical relationship I never experienced in real life with my father and grandfather, both of whom were hunters. Both were taken from me too early – one by age and the other by a big war. The relationship exists as part of why I hunt. I realized its presence one morning sitting on a log during a dove hunt with my dog as I held an old 16-gauge Winchester Model 12 like the one both of those departed gentlemen hunted with years ago. I could write for much more than this column’s word limit and still not adequately explain it. Maybe you understand.

You can participate in the heritage and perhaps discover ways to pass it on to others -- like a kind gentleman, Josh Munro, did for me when there were no men in the family to do so. 

The exhibit is open to the public and runs for four days with something for every hunter or wannabee who’s curious about hunting and wants to learn more. Day passes are $25 with discounts for multiple days and new DSC members. Kids 14 and under are free as are active military.

I hope I’ll see ya there.

John Jefferson is a lifelong outdoorsman, former regulations coordinator at Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept., past executive director of the Texas Chapter of The Wildlife Society, and author of two books on Texas hunting.

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