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Outdoor News: Dallas Safari Club Expo

Outdoor News: Dallas Safari Club Expo

*Editor’s Note: This segment is very popular with our readers. It is based upon interviews with Greenwood’s Harold and Patti Smith. They have traveled the world in search of big game in exotic locales and have collected trophies, photos and stories about foreign governments, tribal customs and deadly adventures. This is unique.  We know of no other news publication in Arkansas offering this opportunity and we appreciate Harold and Patti for sharing their memories and photos with The Greenwood Tradition and its readers.

Dallas Safari Club Expo, Mecca for Sportsmen, National News Controversy

In several stories featured in this segment, readers have been encouraged to seek out the guides and outfitters who offer hunting trips in all price ranges. The suggestion has also been made that interested sportsmen and adventurers shop the industry’s best and most experienced trip designers at expos including the Dallas Safari Club’s annual show held in January.

Harold and Patti Smith just returned from the annual Dallas Safari Club Expo and share some of the experiences and provide some valuable insights about this show and others that spawn from this, the largest of the Texas shows.  

The Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas attached to the Omni Hotel has an expo center the size of nine football fields. It is filled with every conceivable tool, weapon, garment, gadget, guide service and innovation in hunting, fishing and sports adventure including taxidermists, artists, authors and sportscasters. Eight hundred exhibitors provide aisle after endless aisle of opportunity to see the latest and best. And, to keep the quality of the exhibitors high, there is a waiting list of 500 more potential exhibitors who can’t get in to this show-this is the granddaddy of all trade shows for hunting and fishing. It draws 41,000 attendees from all over the world. Exhibitors are there from Africa, Asia and Europe. Guides for hunting everything from Texas small game to Rhinos are there to detail what their camps can offer and for what price. The Scottish elk hunting guides in their kilts are just a part of the global feel of the experience according to Harold Smith who took the photos that are a part of this story.

Harold admitted, “There are taxidermists there with trophy specimens that are species I never even heard of. It’s truly an experience that smaller expos don’t provide. There are taxidermy mounts there of full size elephants and Peacock Bass and everything in between.”

OutDoorNews1-22-14aSo, in addition to hunters, who attends this show? Folks whose names you will recognize are wandering the aisles just like the hunters and sight seers. For example, Harold and Patti Smith visited this last week with the following at the show: Larry Weishuhn-“Mr. Whitetail” who is a wildlife biologist/outdoors writer/television host of “Trailing the Hunter’s Moon.” There was Craig Boddington, hunter/journalist, author and television host of “Boddington Experience.” Also at the show was Johan Calitz, who holds the exclusive hunting rights to 3 million acres on behalf of the Botswana/Mozambique government who, along with Tony Makris is television host of “Under Wild Skies.” Smith spoke with Tom Miranda-American bow hunter/trapper/author/entrepreneur/television host of “Adventure Bow Hunter” and “Territories Wild.”  There was seen, Ivan Carter-professional hunter and television host of “Dark and Dangerous with Ivan Carter” and Jeff Rann-television host of “Dangerous Game” and owner of the world famous  777 Ranch in Hondo, Texas, a giant exotic game hunting ranch.

National News at This Year’s Expo

The Dallas Safari Club Expo made national news this year when protesters and animal rights activists made a demonstration over the sale of hunting rights for a Black Rhino. According to Harold Smith, there are only 5055 Black Rhinos in the wild today in native Namibia. Why is that? Poaching and loss of habitat have reduced the numbers because the Black Rhino was not managed. The Asians prize the horn of the Black Rhino for its’ supposed medicinal qualities. Scientists say it has no medicinal qualities. Never the less, one rhino horn can fetch $80,000.00 assuring plenty of risk taking poachers who then leave the meat to waste and not even feed hungry native villagers.

The auctioning off of the rights to kill one aging Black Rhino was expected to bring in $1 million for habitats. Protesters brought so much negative publicity to the event that the bid was only $350,000.00 in funds that would have been used to add an armed presence to the area of Namibia where the Black Rhino is kept in game preserves and thereby curbing poaching. Smith is quick to point out that the protesters who ruined the fundraising event sent no money to Namibia at all. Conservation efforts require money. Money flows from hunters and not from anti-hunters’ protests.

The Black Rhino to be taken by the successful bidder was too old for breeding purposes, but large enough and strong enough to fight off other males and thus preventing the proliferation of the species. It would have died due to the ravages of winter anyway. By being auctioned, it would be one taken so that many might live. It is in this way that management of these exotic animals ensures their survival in numbers sufficient for hunting and re-population without endangering the species. That is the educational value of sound wildlife management.

Conservation, Education and Hunter Advocacy

The 41,000 tickets for admission at $20.00 per person per day, the silent and live auctions and the other sources of revenue raise $4 million dollars for animal conservation, education and hunting advocacy, according to Ben Carter, Executive Director of the Dallas Safari Club Expo.

OutDoorNews1-22-14bIn previous articles in this series, we have fostered the notion that wildlife management-which includes hunting, fishing and trapping-serves a purpose that goes far beyond simple regulation for safety and statistics. Harold Smith says repeatedly, “Conservation will follow the dollars spent by hunters.” It’s true. There is more to “management” than just conservation of a species. It’s a formula in which man plays a role in the equation that is part of the circle of life. Harold Smith describes it this way, “Man was given ‘dominion’ over all the earth. GOD put the fear of man into the beasts of the wild. Hunting to thin populations so that the stronger can proliferate, limiting populations so that species do not deplete the food supply and providing scientific education to expand habitats are all part of the concept of conservation.”

If you have ever confused “conservation” with “preservation” then you might well be understandably  conflicted by definitions as to man’s role in the circle of life and how the hunter is vital to the scheme of animal conservation.

To this end, Harold Smith convincingly argues, “Anti-hunters have the HEART for what they are doing, but not the HEAD. Hunters must have both. They love the animals they take. They prize the trophies on their walls and the experiences of the hunt. They are willing to submit to the rules and regulations of sound wildlife management techniques to ensure abundance in numbers. Anti-hunters see only the numbers.”

It works like this: when hunters prize an animal for its natural illusiveness or its value in hide, tusk or meat, steps will be taken to assure that there will always be a steady supply of the animal. The weak or genetically inferior will be killed off. The take will be limited, the numbers recorded and the regulations tightened. Anywhere anyone is making money off of the supply of wild game, that wild game will be managed to assure its ready availability and health.

Smith gives an example in nearby Cookson Bend game preserve. The elk over populated from lack of management and thus began to rely upon secondary foods (not grazing, but reaching up into trees to eat leaves, nuts and berries). This caused a brain parasite that eliminated herds by the hundreds with decreases in birth rates and increases in birth mortality rates. “This is an example of how man (the hunter) is a part of GOD’s plan for management of the wild…when the hunting stops, the value of the animal drops and the nurturing of the species stops. The numbers get out of control and extinction is the result. Having dominion means management.”

Evidence shows that anywhere the hunting is stopped or too heavily restricted, the expense of eradicating unwanted wildlife burdens the government. There are examples of wolves in Yellowstone threatening elk populations and Mountain Lions in California that now threaten joggers. Hunters are the free labor that helps control overpopulation that leads to extinction or pestilence.

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