Off and running

DALLAS — As sunset fell on the 2010 Dallas Safari Club (DSC) Convention, themed 'First Light,' fears about an uncertain economy, changes in venue and attendee figures rolled away like the last exhibitor's cart.

When planning begins for next year's convention, it will be the event's 2010 edition, which wrapped up its four-day run on Sunday, against which it will be judged.

DSC shattered records in virtually every category of interest to any entity staging a large-scale event: exhibitor count (1,100), attendees (early estimates — not counting exhibitors or staff topped 26,000 based on day pass sales) and fundraising (live auctions produced $400,000 more than 2009).

"Overall we couldn't be happier with the event and having a home in such a high-quality venue like the Dallas Convention Center," said DSC Executive Director, Ben Carter. "The economy may be down, but it didn't appear so at the Dallas Safari Club Convention in Dallas, Texas. It's safe to say we blew the doors off of our expected auction fundraisers."

Among the items to fetch the largest amounts during live auctions, a commissioner's tag for a bull elk in Arizona's White Mountains brought $40,000 as did an elephant hunt with famed African outfitter, Coenraad Vermaak Safaris. With DSC members and attendees anxious for a chance at prizes like high-end firearms, exclusive hunts and exotic goods from around the world, silent auction totals and raffle tickets set all-time highs as well.

The money raised will go to expand DSC's grant programs that benefit conservation and education initiatives around the world. In the current fiscal year, DSC has already distributed $350,000 to support causes such as securing public hunting areas and sporting opportunities in Alaska, the distribution of curriculum to schools around the country and many others.

"We'll continue to support causes and programs that uphold the conservation values of the Dallas Safari Club," Carter said. "The money raised at this convention will also help our education programs substantially."

In addition to fundraising, the booking of hunts and selling of goods, the DSC Convention is also the time of year when the organization hands out its awards for achievement and involvement. Among those receiving awards at the 2010 convention:

Hubert Thummler of Mexico City — Peter Hathaway Capstick Hunting Heritage Award

Tom Montgomery of Dallas — Outstanding Hunting Achievement Award

Frank Sweeny — Award of Excellence

Chase Phillips — Colin Caruthers Young Hunter Award

Peter Thormalen of Thormalen and Cochrane Safaris — Outfitter of the Year Award

Craig Boddington — J.J. Malek South Pacific Grand Slam Award

Sue Poffenroth and Bonnie Newcomb of Keller (TX) ISD — Educator of the Year

The DSC's 2011 convention returns to the Dallas Convention Center, its home through 2015, January 6-9, 2011. Already exhibitors are excited by the prospects of even better results.

"We had a very good show after traffic picked up on Thursday," African outfitter Anso Thormahlen said. "We booked several safaris and always thank the DSC for the opportunity to be here."