MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT
Update from Don Giottonini SSC President
Happy New Year! Starter Rick Parsons was named CEO. He has been affiliated with SCI for years as a legal consultant. The most significant move we made was to donate $500,000.00 to the Trump conservation fund. We will be a major player setting policy about wildlife and hunting. Finally we have stepped up to the challenge. The Executive Committee has explained this was a now or never move. It has not been made clear if this is a private fund or government, I think private. Our DC people are involved with the Trump team making appointments. The appointment for the interior is from Montana. I think that announcement went out to all SCI members. Everything I am seeing from our DC people is positive. We have lost a lot of ground these past 8 years and we need to support and be involved in policy making in the future.
NEW I-5 SIGN
Many of you who have driven South on I-5 may have noticed our sign. It was long overdue to be replaced and thanks to our partners – North Delta Conservancy – the sign has been upgraded. Our goal to get the message of conservation is out. Be sure to spread the word!
SSC MEMBER, AARON ARMSTRONG
By Grant Carson The next time you hunt on a huge mountain or adventure to a remote region of huntable territory, look for Aaron Armstrong - ask for the guy who shot the biggest trophy and does his own taxidermy. A board member with Sacramento Safari Club, Aaron started plinking squirrels at age five in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Tagging along with his Dad on deer hunts and fishing trips, the unquenchable urge to hunt and be outdoors developed in Aaron. Like other hunters, he bagged classic upland birds after reaching double-digits. In his late teens, Aaron finally began pursuing deer and boar. “The rest is history,” he ardently exclaimed. To win the title of “experienced,” hunters must have the courage to defy the food-chain by taking on giant predators with grit and a couple-hundred grains of lead or steel. Aaron recounted these moments of danger when considering his most memorable hunts. “On my Alaskan hunt in 2005, a brown bear charged me at eight yards,” he described, “at that point I slipped an arrow through.” What a hunt! “All that, and we got it on video.” Aaron later described that he moves extremely close to an animal for a shot. When hearing about the bear charge, I laughed and said Outdoor Channel could use a host like him. Aaron prizes tough and impressive trophies.
One year later, he journeyed to Mongolia and bagged four excellent species: a Gobi Ibex, Altai Ibex, and two White-tailed Gazelles. I proceeded and asked him to select his favorite adventure from his reserve of global hunting stories; he chose his expedition for Mountain Goat in Alaska last year. “We flew to a high mountain lake, then set up camp in a classic backpack hunt,” he described. I could picture him in the last moments watching the little plane fade into the sunset after arriving at camp, reminding the hunter that there’s no going back, and he must conquer the hunt! “It was stormy and snowing for a day,” he said, “and as soon as the sky cleared, we headed up the mountain. We spotted an excellent billy that evening and advanced toward him. I made the shot and knocked him down. We packed him out the next day.” That’s how it’s done!
Aaron faithfully recognizes that the size of a trophy does not determine the quality of the hunt. Instead he believes that by simply being outside, hunters observe the exciting, impressive, and unpredictable “nature” of the outdoors. “During a hunt when I shot a black bear a few weeks ago, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk carrying a full-size rattlesnake in its talons. No activity besides hunting offers this kind of experience.” This is what I call “safari,” Swahili for “journey,” a term to describe the adventure, outdoor experience, friendship, and pursuit in an epic hunt. Trophy quality can’t compare to the outdoor experience.
I had heard that Aaron enjoys teaching his daughter to hunt, and he told me about their outdoor adventures, “We’ve both shot tom turkeys within one hour. To top that, in California B-zone, we both shot bucks within five minutes! This year, she took a Nevada Pronghorn at 150 yards with her .22-250 that scored Boone and Crockett.” Big trophies and supportive buddies always make a hunt memorable and encouraging to a young hunter. Aaron certainly understands the importance of passing on hunting to his daughter, considering that the American liberty to hunt was passed on to him by his family. For hunting to be passed on, youth must have opportunities to hunt in their own state. Aaron stressed this point when he compared the ability to hunt in California forty years ago to the
persecuted and improperly managed state of the sport today. “I was born and raised in this state,” he says, “I grew up trapping animals - something that can hardly be done today. You could hunt bear and bobcat with hounds then. I watched all this slowly filter away. Once the foot is in the door, it keeps going until the door is kicked down.” He continued to warn me of the dangers of bureaucratic incrementalism, the slow process which erodes the freedom to hunt. Is California wildlife better off with management by invested conservationists like Aaron and the 800,000 other California hunters who spend time in the field and spend their money to support the animals, or are the natural resources better managed by one-hundred twenty legislators and one governor who send tens of billions of gallons of water into the ocean during a drought? The answer is clear. This is the message SCI spreads throughout the world. Aaron and the rest of the SSC board understand the difficult road ahead of them for the conservation of all species, as President Don Giottonini remarked, “When’s the last time anyone’s seen a wild pheasant in California?” Well, Vice President Dan Cirillo is doing
something about that - that’s for another article. One of the most important treasures hunters can receive from their hunt are the memories of the adventures. The methods of keeping the hunting memories alive differ between hunters; for Aaron, taxidermy is the (almost) living proof of the adventure. “Taxidermy is art,” he expressed. “Some people hang pictures on their walls. I hang trophies on my walls. It’s a great way to keep the memories alive and pay respect to the animal. My taxidermy reminds me of the challenge of the hunt.” Aaron described how he appreciates and deeply loves the animals, “I’ve studied animals since I was five. I love writing about them and analyzing them, and observing them in their unique habitats.” I realized at this point that the qualities of the passionate Mr. Armstrong were those of a wildlife scientist, so I asked him if he considered himself a scientist, and he replied, “Ecology and biology, yes, a true taxidermist embodies all those things.” The science of hunting fosters a love of knowledge about wildlife, not just the study of an encyclopedic write-up of a species. No scientist, and no legislator, can know what is best for wildlife until he or she has hunted. This is all the more proof that hunters are best suited to manage the conservation of wildlife. How fascinating to think that animal mounts have so much science behind them. Taxidermy is more than just mounting a trophy on a wall, it is a form of art that pays respect to the animal, keeps the hunting memories alive, and promotes the excitement of learning about and conserving the next unique species. When thinking like Aaron, I consider taxidermy mounts like tangible pictures which transform the living room into an animal environment. These tangible treasures are better than a 3D wildlife documentary! As affirmed by every SSC hunter I interview, Safari Club hunters are compassionate conservationists who care for the health and betterment of wildlife through managed and sustainable hunting and the advancement of communities throughout the world through economic and humanitarian support. Aaron emphasized the complex scientific aspects of hunting, such as predator and prey balance, diversification of gene pools, and the harvest of non-breeding old trophies. All these benefits of hunting will never be matched by a bill from a legislator; the animals need hunters to thrive. I can’t wait to hear about Mr. Armstrong’s next hunt.
DON'T GET HUNTED (ON LINE!)
Article by SCI
It’s the most wonderful time of the year – fall hunting season. There’s nothing better than enjoying the great outdoors while harvesting the wildlife of your choice: deer, antelope, turkey, pheasant, the list goes on and on. Well, there is one thing better – bragging about it. The best way to show off your hunting prowess in 2016 is to prove it, with a photo. A photo posted to social media, to be exact. Before you post your favorite hunting snapshots on the internet, please take a moment to read our social media tips.
Weigh the Pros and Cons
Did you shoot a limit of pheasants? Post that photo, especially if the majority of your friends support your pastime. Did you shoot a lion? Take a moment to think about how your friends will respond. Lions, elephants, zebras, and all those other “charismatic” animals tend to evoke a negative respond from the anti-hunting public. While ideally you’ve followed our previous advice on making your photos private (read our tips here), realize that anything you post online has the possibility of being seen by anyone and everyone. If anti-hunters took your photo and turned it into a meme, would you be able to deal with it? If anti-hunters start targeting you and harassing you online or at your place of employment, would you be able to deal with it? If so, post away.
Post “Smart” Photos
Now that you’ve decided to post a hunting photo to social media, be sure you choose a good photo. It’s important to stage your hunting photos. No, we’re not talking about those little tricks where you sit four feet away from your kill and reach those arms out, giving the illusion of a much larger animal. We’re talking about making sure your take looks as peaceful as possible in your post-shot photoshoot.
Clean up the blood. No one wants to see any gore, even if it is a natural part of hunting. Rotate the animal so that the entry (or exit) wound is not front and center.
Tuck in that tongue. Children get scolded for sticking out their tongues. The same can be said for hunting photos. If the tongue is out, throw out that photo!
Honor the animal. No one wants to see your foot on the shoulder of your dead critter. Take the time to ensure the animal looks as peaceful as possible and honor the hunting experience with a body position that even grandma would approve.
Share the Entire Experience
Even better than the expected end-of-the-hunt-trophy-picture are the photos that show the entire experience. Are you hunting with dogs? Post of photo of your four-legged friends in their element. Are you sitting in a tree stand for hours on end, mad at the squirrels for making all that racket? Post a photo showcasing the beauty of Mother Nature. Every photo tells a story. As hunters we need to make sure we are sharing the ENTIRE story, not just the end result.
One Last Thing
Send us your 2016 hunting photos! We’d love to feature you on our Facebook page. You can submit your photo using the “Message” feature on our SCI Hunter Advocacy Facebook page (here) or you can email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll never publish your last name, but we love showing off our members and their experiences. Happy hunting!
SSC “SENSORY SAFARI” AT ISE SHOW
It’s that time of year again! The International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show at Cal-Expo in Sacramento starts on January 19 and wraps up on the 22nd. Due to the merger, this year Sacramento Safari Club will be showcasing our “Sensory Safari” that we inherited from the Granite Bay Chapter. SSC Board Member and previous Granite Bay Chapter President Cal Ryan will be displaying a variety of mounts, thanks to those who have donated. This project helps educate children on conservation and what SCI does to fight for our privilege to hunt. If you plan on attending the show, be sure to drop by the Expo Center where the Youth Fair is held.
Don’t forget to Save the Date for our 2017 Chapter Fundraiser – March 18, 2017 at the Double Tree Hotel in Sacramento.