I’ve just returned, unscathed except for some severe mental scars, from the Safari Club International convention in Reno. The first SCI convention held in Reno was in 1998, and there were 2,500 people attending. This one had 23,000, and most of them were in the damned halls at the same time. There were 1,100 exhibitors, mostly selling art, jewelry, guns, hunts, and clothing.

But these are merely the cold, hard facts. The true reality is that this is a kind of wonderland where only the truly rich can afford to play. The guns writers (who, by and large, come from the lowest socio-economic levels of society) whom I saw were slinking around like a bunch of whipped dogs. They were way, way, out of their depth and they knew it.

“A moose hunt for $18,000; a moose hunt for $18,000,” groaned one of them, over and over, reeling as though he’d been in a car wreck.

“Do you know of any cheap hunts?” asked another. “I’m trying to get a mountain goat hunt and can’t find one for under $17,000.”

I just laughed bitterly and continued slurping down my $4 lemonade.

But the truth is that it’s a wonderful experience, and I look forward to going again next year. Coming up shortly is a selection of photos that will give you a look at some of the more interesting stuff. One or two of the items are affordable. I apologize for that. I did my best, but no one’s perfect.

The convention was uplifting in that there were a lot of younger people there–30s and 40s–and not a lot of old, decaying bastards with big bucks. Also, most of the people did not look well-to-do. They looked like ordinary folks. And maybe they were. Except with a lot more money than you and me.