ESCANABA - March 25 will mark the 10th anniversary of the Northwoods Chapter of Safari Club International during their annual fundraising banquet at the Island Resort and Casino.
While the organization has been here for a decade, they aren't as high profile as other local clubs until it comes to hunting rights.
Safari Club International has offices on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. They are often referred to for hunting, in the same capacity the National Rifle Association is for the right to bear arms.
The N/SCI has been a partner in wildlife conservation progress throughout Michigan's UP ever since they opened shop. In fact, all SCI Chapters throughout Michigan have partnered on three major wildlife projects that some have thought were funded differently.
The two moose lifts performed in cooperation between Michigan and Ontario were funded in part by the Safari Club International Michigan Involvement Committee and their contribution now totals over $1 million.
They also continued to fund the annual moose surveys in the UP, showing a herd being naturally sustained enough to now consider a lottery hunt, similar to the elk hunting season in the central Lower Peninsula.
Most recently, N/SCI and the Michigan Involvement Committee put up funding to be matched with contributions through the Pittman Robertson Act to fund a nine-year study related to how predators and habitat conditions play a role in deer fawn recruitment.
It is the first comparative type examination of this resource in Michigan, having formerly been done in Minnesota. The Michigan study is expanding the study protocols and is now generating interest in other nearby states.
One of my favorite N/SCI projects is their annual sponsorship of a special needs youngster who has either been dealing with life-long disabilities or has been stricken with a grave illness.
The club hosts the selected candidate on a trip to the Legends Ranch in northern Lower Michigan for a big game hunt. The concept, formerly covered and then dropped by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, has restored the dreams of many individuals to hunt and take big game.
The club continues to sponsor teachers who want to attend the SCI American Wilderness Leadership School. Last year nine Michigan teachers attended, part of 5,175 to date that reach more than a million students,
What is similar to the many other conservation organizations in the UP is how the N/SCI raises money.
Each year they hold a fund raising banquet that features door prizes and raffles. While these games of chance bring in the major bucks for other clubs, the big money comes to N/SCI during their hunting and fishing trip auction.
Any person attending a banquet can bid on any number of special trips providing outfitters and guides anywhere from nearby to as far away as south Africa. There are trips that reach as far north as Alaska all the way south to Louisiana and points west.
All the hunting and fishing providers have experience with SCI, assuring a quality product, often well below the listed price.
In addition, there are some specialty products such as art, clothing and firearms up for auction.
Last year they had a sporting rifle that wasn't the most spectacular or unique caliber and action, however the fact that the wood used for the stock was over 2,000 years old certainly added to the value of this one-of-a-kind gun.
Representatives of Raven Wear Hunting Apparel will have products to buy at the banquet and are also offering one ensemble on the auction block valued at over $500.
Those who are curious and want to learn all the particulars of the valued prizes can meet the guide and outfitter representatives at a special party from 6-8 p.m. (EDT) the night before the banquet, also at Island Resort and Casino. It is free , with hors d'oeuvres, a cash bar and raffles.
The doors of the banquet open Thursday at 4 and the program begins at 6 p.m.
The individual banquet ticket price is $70, however you can save money on one of the "combo" packages available that also include tickets for various games and drawings. These must be obtained in advance.
You can even sign up to bring your favorite mount to be on display with others at the banquet. Some already scheduled are from previous SCI auctioned hunting and fishing trips.
Contacting Larry or Sandy Godwin (906-864-1347) or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
A banquet and club overview is also available for you to access at the N/SCI chapter website: www.sci-northwoods.org and click on Banquet to find updated details of the event.
Tim Kobasic is the outdoors editor for KMB Broadcasting and host/producer for Tails & Trails Outdoor Radio, aired on six radio stations over three networks, Charter Communications cable and the Internet on Saturday mornings.