The Dallas Safari Club convention brings hunters from around the world

Jan 19, 2017

Steven Ray (left) congratulates Mitchell Ray, this year's winner of the Rattling Forks Antler Rattling Contest at the Dallas Safari Club Convention.
Credit Luke Clayton

Dallas - I’ve been attending the annual Dallas Safari Club (DSC) conventions for almost three decades now and I can truly state this annual “get together” of outdoorsmen and women is the greatest hunting show on the planet. It is that and a whole lot more.

About a decade ago DSC became a sponsor of the three different weekly outdoor radio shows that I do.  Larry Weishuhn, a strong voice for and supporter of DSC,  joins me each week in “Campfire Talk with Larry Weishuhn”, a segment of the show devoted to talking about hunting and Larry’s adventures around the globe filming DSC’s Trailing the Hunters Moon TV show which airs on the Sportsman Channel. It’s a fun “visit” each week for both of us and one that has become very popular.

The convention attracts hunting guides and outfitters from across the globe offering hunts for everything from dangerous game in Africa to prairie chickens in Kansas but the convention is not limited to hunting.  Fishing lodge owners are also present offering angling opportunities to remote Canadian or Alaskan waters, peacock bass on the Amazon or pack in trips for trout in the Rockies. Artists from around the world display their sculptures and paintings with outdoor themes. Imported rifles and shotguns, some with price tags that equal that of a fully loaded 4WD drive truck are for sale as are quality firearms that most of can afford.

For the past couple of years, I was honored to be one of the three judges for Steven Ray’s Rattling Forks Antler Rattling Contest. The winner of this year’s event was Mitchell Ray, owner of Stratus Support Systems. Mitchell used a combination of antler rattling, buck vocalizations and tree bark scraping to win the contest. Runner up was Joe Dunn who came in a close second place. Dunn took a cue from Steven Ray’s videos and incorporated an empty water bottle to mimic leaves being crunched by a couple of fighting bucks. The winner of the event wins a buck hunt with Steven Ray each year. I’ve hunted with Steven the past 3 years and written about his antler rattling techniques in several publications. His Rattling Forks can be used to produce sounds that travel a great distance in open country or, toned down when hunting in very close cover.

I was also invited by the folks at Smokin Tex Electric Smokers to share my game cooking knowledge during a seminar held on the Saturday of the event. The seminar was well received and I was delighted at how much interest there was in cooking the fruits of our hunts. We discussed everything from smoking ham and sausages from wild hogs to making fajitas from wild turkeys. As always in these seminars, I believe I helped some folks learn new ways to put their fish and game to use but I also learned a few new ideas that I want to test soon.

Many useful products were highlighted at the show and I could easily fill this week’s column with product reviews.  There was a couple of things that caught my eye that I thought not only extremely useful for the average sportsman but priced right as well.

Ken Blackstock with Plano Golf Carts offered his line of “souped up” hunting buggies that began life as basic golf carts and were transformed into very rugged hunting vehicles. The only thing that resembles the cart we’re familiar with on the golf course is the chaise. Heavy duty motors, controllers, lift kits, oversized tires, racks in front and bed in back make these units ideal for the deer lease or mountains of Colorado. I’ve owned one of Blackstock’s “Hunting Buggies” for the past 7 years and it’s served me well on hunting trips from Texas to the mountains of Colorado, all at a cost of about half what a major manufacturer electric ATV costs.

While visiting with Blackstock at his booth, I was introduced to what I believe to be one of the most useful new items at the show that he now offers on his units.  It called the UTX Removable Scissor Lift. These very solidly built lifts come with stable outriggers and mount to the back of an ATV. They extend to a stable working (or shooting) height of about 19 feet. They are designed to lift two men or 500-600 pounds. These lifts are truly multipurpose with many uses around the farm/ranch. One can change light bulbs or trim trees one day and attach the camouflage cover and have a stable elevated hunting blind the next. 

Another item I found to be very useful is an innovative new way of taking the “load” off carrying rifles or shotguns in the field.  The Stratus Support System is a two piece unit that transfers the weight of slinged firearms off the neck, shoulders and back, re-directing the load to the hips. The redistribution reduces fatigue on the back and shoulders which makes carrying a firearm in the field much more comfortable. The system is very useful for anyone that carries a shotgun through a duck marsh or in the turkey woods, or slings a rifle on a big game hunt where covering lots of ground on foot is necessary.

The staff and volunteers at DSC will hopefully take a short breather after putting on another awesome convention this year but you can bet they will soon begin preparing for next year’s event very soon. After all, the “Greatest Hunting Show on the Planet” doesn’t just “happen”; it’s the direct results of a monumental effort each year by scores of dedicated folks. 
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