“They charge when they’re wounded,” Rensburg said with a slight laugh before adding, “It’s not very pleasant, to say the least.”
Rensburg, a big game hunter and exhibitor at the 37th annual Safari Club International Hunters’ Convention, is from Mozambique, Africa, and is no stranger to large animals. He has hunted plains game like antelope for the past four years.
“I love the adventure,” Rensburg said, explaining that he doesn’t enjoy hunting within set perimeters or fences. “This is the way it should be done — out in the wild.”
Rensburg was just one of the nearly 23,000 expected attendees and exhibitors at Wednesday’s kickoff of the largest convention to come through the Reno/Tahoe region.
All around the 560,000 square feet of space at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center, taxidermied leopards, bears and moose littered the bustling exhibition floor, with the latest in rifle equipment and international hunting trips being talked about in several different languages.
Seminars and auctions are also being held at the convention, which is scheduled to last until Saturday.
“It really is a world event,” SCI president Merle Shepard said, mentioning that there are more than 50 countries represented at this year’s convention. “We’ve always been very successful here (Reno/Tahoe) and our members like coming here.”
They like it so much that SCI has chosen Reno as the location of their annual convention for the past seven years, estimated to bring in more than $20 million in direct, local economic impact.
“SCI fits the culture of the area,” said Ellen Oppenheim, president of the Reno-Sparks Convention Visitor’s Authority. “Many of the people that come, come back year after year.”
One such regular attendee is Roger Oerter, from Chicago, who has been all over the world, including Africa and New Zealand, hunting buffalo, wart hogs and antelope. Oerter has been faithfully attending SCI since he made his first big trip to Africa in 1998.
“If you’re a hunter, this is the place to be,” Oerter said. “They have outfitters from all over the world.”
Also present was National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, who will be signing his book “The Global War on Your Guns” at a patron’s private reception later in the week.
Other highlights include featured keynote addresses from actor and NRA member Tom Selleck on Wednesday and from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Saturday.
Expecting about 2,000 more people compared to 2008’s attendance of 21,100, the SCI is also expecting to top the amount of hotel room nights generated, which in 2008 was 22,000.