Big Game Hunts Sell Big Time At SCI Show
Checkbooks were flying and pens were racing at the biggest gathering of hunters in the world this past weekend at the Safari Club International’s 40th annual convention where every exhibitor visited by the Insider reported land-office sales.
“We took 29 deposit checks yesterday,” effused Dave Fulson of Safari Classics. “Twenty-nine! And I don’t mean for plains game safaris; I’m talking about lion and elephant and buffalo, lion/elephant, leopard/buffalo, all high-end safaris.”
Greg Rodriguez of Global Outdoor Adventures concurred. “I don’t know what’s happened to people, but everyone is buying. The low-end safaris aren’t selling—you know, the $4,000 plains game packages—but the expensive safaris are going like crazy,” he said.
“It’s like everyone is just sick and tired of being told the economy is in the toilet. After holding back and being cautious these past two years, people are finally spending money,” Fulson opined.
Bruce Martin of Royal Uganda Safaris is sold out for 2013 and nearly so for 2014. “My safaris are for the collector who wants species like Ssese Island sitatunga, Uganda kob and Nile buffalo. A Uganda safari is not for the beginner, but I’m not having any trouble selling,” Martin commented.
Shaun Buffee of Shaun Buffee Safaris in Zimbabwe said he is totally sold out for 2012 and virtually full for 2013, but is taking bookings for 2014. “I’ve never seen anything like it. We’re totally sold out of lion through 2014; the next available is 2015. Everyone here is like that [sold out],” Buffee said.
I’m as flummoxed by the situation as these safari operators: why now? Is it that well-heeled hunters have a crystal ball into November and see a Republican victory in the White House? Is the economy really not as bad as the pundits say? Has everyone hit the lottery?
I’ll leave the interpreting to others. Me? I’m just glad to have attended this incredible showcase of hunting, wildlife art, fine guns and artistic taxidermy. The SCI show is a must-see for anyone who loves to hunt.