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January 29, 2007

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The Gun Nut In Toyland

I’ve just returned, unscathed except for some severe mental scars, from the Safari Club International convention in Reno. The first SCI convention held in Reno was in 1998, and there were 2,500 people attending. This one had 23,000, and most of them were in the damned halls at the same time. There were 1,100 exhibitors, mostly selling art, jewelry, guns, hunts, and clothing.

But these are merely the cold, hard facts. The true reality is that this is a kind of wonderland where only the truly rich can afford to play. The guns writers (who, by and large, come from the lowest socio-economic levels of society) whom I saw were slinking around like a bunch of whipped dogs. They were way, way, out of their depth and they knew it.

“A moose hunt for $18,000; a moose hunt for $18,000,” groaned one of them, over and over, reeling as though he’d been in a car wreck.

"Do you know of any cheap hunts?" asked another. "I'm trying to get a mountain goat hunt and can’t find one for under $17,000."

I just laughed bitterly and continued slurping down my $4 lemonade.

But the truth is that it's a wonderful experience, and I look forward to going again next year. Coming up shortly is a selection of photos that will give you a look at some of the more interesting stuff. One or two of the items are affordable. I apologize for that. I did my best, but no one’s perfect.

The convention was uplifting in that there were a lot of younger people there--30s and 40s--and not a lot of old, decaying bastards with big bucks. Also, most of the people did not look well-to-do. They looked like ordinary folks. And maybe they were. Except with a lot more money than you and me.


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Ralph the Rifleman

Ahhh..18k Moose Hunts, and Sheep hunts over 17k...If I only had my 100 year old scotch to sip; The dream would be complete!

Ed J

Aha. I always thought writers were bottom feeders. Now you have admited it.


For an interesting contrast Dave, if you want to see how the rock bottom of the socio-economic structure hunts, you are welcome to join me some fall.

Dave Petzal

To Ed J: No, not bottom feeders; just culturally and economically disadvantaged.

To PbHead: Very kind of you, but I've accepted an invitation to hunt naugas in Africa this fall. It's a $42,577 hunt, so I can't really turn it down.


Ah, class envy......
Hey Dave, I'll have my people call your people to set up a wonderful squirrel hunt this fall. It will be fab.....

8 mauser man

Its a shame that the price of these hunts is getting so out of line, but on the other hand its nice to see that much intrest in SCI. Are there any good old "white trash" hunts still available? You know the kind...the guide may have a couple of warrents for domestic abuse or DUI, but he knows the land and the game well. The accomadations include a tent and whatever else you could cram into the back of the truck. It may not be a tasteful lodge complete with brandy and cigars, but a dead moose is a dead moose am i right?


I was born a poor white child.....


I had a hard enough time buying a $1700 snowmobile... I wouldn't be able to buy on of these hunts if I saved for 15 years.

Dave Petzal

to 8Mauserman: I'm sure there are, but the problem is that all the really good, game-producing real estate has been pretty much locked up by the big-money hunts. Or at least that's what I see.

On the other hand, a friend of mine who shot the whole freakin' B&C roster over nearly 50 years, says the most important advice he can offer on hunting is: "Don't take cheap hunts."


Whenever I heard about something like the $18K moose hunt, several things immediately come to mind:
- How did they convince the spouse this was worth dipping into the 401K?
- How long did it take for their friends and neighbors to start to avoid them so they wouldn’t have to hear another rendition of the great moose hunt adventure?
- How many moose burgers does it take before you turn into a vegetarian?
- How long before Bullwinkle is in a yard sale?
- Do they pay sticker plus the “market adjustment” for a new car?

I'm really trying to relate but my point of diminishing return stops somewhere around a $300 quail hunt.

Mike Diehl

Hey Dave,

Where does a nauga -- hide? ;)

Dave Petzal

To Mike Diehl: Usually couches and sofas.


Hey! No derogatory remarks about naugahide, please! When I was growing up my parents had a HUGE burgundy sofa made from that stuff and seven kids couldn't make a dent in it. Great stuff. It's amazing what they can make from petroleum products. And they probably gave it away at a yard sale. Ah, for the good old days.


Hey Dave!!

We saw the pictures of the expensive guns, and taxidermy. What about the pictures of the trophy wives???

Are you going to the Harrisburg Show? It opens Saturday.

Ed J

Hey Dave
Which type of Naugas are you going to hunt? The rolland pleated or the tucked and tufted?

Eric at Gunsite

Awhile back, you wrote that if a nuclear device were detonated in Reno during SCI week, the melted Rolexes would form a half-ton ingot of solid gold. Or something like that. But, there's an annual 'upside'.

It's a good time to talk face-to-face with guys like Jarrett, Bansner & Sandman, who know their way around a rifle.

It's a wake-up call. As in, it now tends to cost more for guided hunts in North America than it does in Africa.

It's a good place to see taxidermy that should live in a museum.

It's a good place to pick up Silent Auction items like guns and knives at absurdly low prices.

It's a good place to watch long-legged trophy wives be their buoyant, bouncy, botoxically beautiful selves. Especially while their husbands are spending their pocket change at your booth.

Then again, I fly to Reno every year as a passenger on a private jet. So I couldn't complain even if I would.

Eric at Gunsite

Dave Petzal

To Tom: Them trophy wives are off limits. Getting your piucture taken is part of the deal for a booth babe, but not for a trophy wife.

To Eric: I have a rant coming up on your seminar. Stay tuned.

Jim Dicken

Ahh the dream is the thing. To sleep per chance to dream of such a hunt. I am a writer anyone want to invite me to hunt Nauga's? I will not even make a joke about their hides.
Jim D


I never hunted a nauga. I shot a nubuck, though. Unfortunately, I lost it in the tall brush. You never get over that sort of thing.

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