The Upland Nation Spreads Its Wings at the Safari Club International Convention

The Annual Hunter’s Convention held by Safari Club International is a magnet for power players in big game hunting, but this year marked a departure as leaders in upland shooting announced significant developments with far-reaching implications.

Quail Unlimited is teaming up with the SCI Foundation to stage an American outdoor game fair intended to rival the sprawling extravaganzas in the UK. Billed as the Southeast’s largest game fair, it’s scheduled for September 23-25 at the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club in Douglassville, Georgia – a section of the US with a distinct heritage of plantation upland shooting.

The Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada also saw news from the Beretta Trident Program during the show’s run of January 26-29.  Launched in May 2010 with four charter destinations, the Beretta Trident Program had unveiled a scrupulous quality rating-system for hunting, shooting and clays venues designed to ensure an unblemished experience for sportsmen. During the SCI Annual Hunter’s Convention, the Beretta Trident Program revealed its first international presence for wingshooters, as well as additional “Tridents” for their inaugural members.

At the SCI Convention, shotgun luminaries such as Zoli President, Paolo Zoli, were talking with enthusiasts about their firearms like this Zoli shotgun.

This year marked the 39th Annual Hunter’s Convention, and if you have never attended the conference the array of quality shotguns among 1,100 exhibitors sprawled across 650,000 square feet is alone worth the price of admission.

Unlike the massive Shot Show, which is reserved for industry professionals, the SCI Annual Hunter’s Convention is open to all enthusiasts. Shotgun lovers get to handle fine firearms and chat up executives they may normally never meet. Alex Diehl, Krieghoff’s General Manager, is always friendly and obliging. Guy Bignell, the CEO of Griffin & Howe, was ever-present in their display. Purdey’s CEO, Nigel Beaumont, approached people admiring his guns. The legendary Tony Galazan of Connecticut Shotgun would answer questions and talk about his impressive inventory of firearms. Norbert Hausmann, CEO of Blaser, spent a lot of time in the company’s exhibit. Paulo Zoli was extremely helpful when it came to his eponymous shotguns and rifles. Cav. Ugo Gussalli Beretta was available in the Beretta retail store and gun exhibit. And restoration mastermind Doug Turnbull of Turnbull Manufacturing Company was happy to share his expertise.

Krieghoff showcased its best shotguns at the SCI Convention, similar to this exhibition-grade K-80.

In addition to meeting the men and women of shotgun royalty, the SCI Annual Hunter’s Convention laid before you the most gorgeous and rarified shotguns on the planet.

Boss & Co., Hartmann & Weiss, Holland & Holland, Fanzoj’s remarkable tri-bore drilling shotguns, the breathtaking George Hoenig Rotary Round Action shotgun, Holloway & Naughton, Peter Hofer, G.S. Pedretti, Verney-Carron and Westley Richards came together in a singular experience of shotgun Nirvana.

Of course, the SCI Annual Hunter’s Convention was equally as impressive for rifles that occupied the same six-figure stratosphere as the bespoke shotguns available on the show floor.

The fascinating three-barrel drilling gun by Fanzoj of Austria.

Still, amid the dazzling display of shotgun artistry, the biggest developments in upland wingshooting came from Quail Unlimited, the SCI Foundation and the Beretta Trident Program.

The strategic alliance of Quail Unlimited and the SCI Foundation is gearing up for its first

EPIC Outdoor Game Fair. Both groups are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations. The proceeds from the fair will help underwrite their ongoing programs to defend and promote America’s outdoor heritage.

In the spirit of their UK predecessors, the organizations intend for the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair to capture the universe of hunting and fishing, but in the cradle of Southern plantation hunting.

Joe Hosmer, President of the SCI Foundation. “We felt that with us driving it, we would get lined up with the Southern plantation culture,” said Joe Hosmer, President of the SCI Foundation. The venue of the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club was also influenced in part by “the majority of SCI members involved in the shotgun sports.”

The EPIC Outdoor Game Fair is slated to be held on 1,100 acres along the Chattahoochee River under management by the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club. The setting is about 20 minutes from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. The organizers are expecting about 29,000 adults and legions of families.

For destinations in the Beretta Trident Program, Three Tridents are the pinnacle of performance. At the SCI Convention, four of the participating venues were awarded their second Trident.

On top of the EPIC Outdoor Game Fair, news of expansion and accolades came from a press conference in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Beretta exhibits.

Jonathan Sherrill, President of the Sporting Heritage Corp., which oversees the Beretta Trident Program, named their first two international affiliates. The Sierra Brava Lodge and its sister operation, Estancia Los Chanares, are both in Cordoba, Argentina – providing the Beretta Trident Program entrée into the country’s celebrated high-volume dove shooting. Each was awarded one Trident for upland birds.

The first-generation of Beretta Trident Program venues advanced from their initial One Trident up to Two Tridents. Three Tridents are the pinnacle of excellence.

Upland shooting at Joshua Creek Ranch.

Less than five percent of such operations worldwide merit even One Trident. The Two Trident destinations are now Joshua Creek Ranch in Texas, the Cheyenne Ridge Signature Lodge in South Dakota, the Highland Hills Ranch in Oregon and the Pine Hill Plantation in Georgia.

“These affiliates represent the best of the best for upland bird hunting destinations and have earned the distinction of a Two Trident rating by making even better the hunting and overall guest experience,” said Dennis Doyle, Vice President of Operations for the Sporting Heritage Corp.

The Beretta Trident Program was itself recipient of the Award of Excellence for Shooting Sports by Sporting Classics magazine. The honor came in recognition of the Beretta Trident Program’s groundbreaking efforts in providing sportsmen and women with an objective rating system for hunting and shooting sports venues.

Irwin Greenstein the Publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at  letters@shotgunlife.com.

 

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