Salt Lake City, UT -(AmmoLand.com)- The doors closed on the 2016 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo (WHCE) after four days that smashed previous records for attendance and funds raised for conservation.
The 10th anniversary show, sponsored by the Mule Deer Foundation and Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife, raised more than $6 million for conservation through auctions and tag drawings. To top off the fundraising efforts, the banquet audience raptly listened to the words of Taya Kyle and Donald Trump, Jr. who both spoke eloquently on the importance of hunting to conservation and the value of the healing power of nature.
Throughout the weekend over 40,000 people walked the 330,000 square feet of exhibit space to support vendors and exhibitors, many of which have already committed to return to exhibit at the 2017 Expo.
“We knew this was going to be a special year for the Western Hunting and Conservation Expo, but this show exceeded our expectations,” said Mule Deer Foundation President/CEO, Miles Moretti. “The WHCE is one of the fastest growing shows for western hunters and we are thrilled to offer a home for these passionate outdoorsmen and women. This is where we have our single greatest opportunity to connect with sportsmen and to raise funds for our conservation efforts throughout the year and our 10th anniversary show was simply incredible.”
The highlight of every WHCE are the evening auctions which is where the real magic is made for conservation. In the Friday night auction, the mule deer tag on Antelope Island sold for a record-breaking $410,000. The next night the Arizona statewide mule deer tag was auctioned for another unprecedented amount, securing a final bid of $400,000. The funds raised for these tags and the dozens of other auction tags support the conservation efforts of MDF and SFW and support mule deer conservation at the state level. At the end of the auctions and combined with funds from tag drawings for more than 200 special Utah hunting tags, the 2016 WHCE raised more than $6 million for conservation.
“I’m not sure that any of us could have predicted how big the WHCE would be when we first started 10 years ago,” commented Jon Larson, president of Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife. “But we are very proud of the show’s success and the support that so many are giving our organizations for the work that we do.”
WHCE vendors and sponsors increased for the 10th anniversary show growing the floor space by more than 20 percent this year. The Expo hall featured 350 companies selling top quality hunts, hunting and outdoor gear, and much more. Those booths, and the different activities for kids, make this show a family-friendly event which was evident by the children walking around sporting M.U.L.E.Y. antler crowns. Their time in the Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience gave many their first opportunity to try shooting sports in a safe manner and to learn about conservation and ethical hunting. Throughout the course of the four day show, tens of thousands of people traversed the show floor.
“Our company started coming to the WHCE several years ago and I was proud to support conservation through the purchase of some tags during evening auctions. But over those years I saw the dramatic growth in the show and the number of hunters that walked through the doors each day and I could see the value in connecting with this market,” commented Darren Newsom, president of ACI and Ammo & More, the title sponsor of the WHCE since 2015.
Similar enthusiasm is felt by all the vendors and most have already secured their booth for the 2017 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo which will run February 16th to 19th next year. Continue to follow www.huntexpo.com for more information.
The Mule Deer Foundation is the only conservation group in North America dedicated to restoring, improving and protecting mule deer, black-tailed deer and their habitat, with a focus on science and program efficiency. MDF is a strong voice for hunters in access, wildlife management and conservation policy issues. MDF acknowledges regulated hunting as a viable management component and is committed to recruitment and retention of youth into the shooting sports and conservation.
Get involved at www.muledeer.org or call 1-888-375-3337.
Headquartered in North Salt Lake, Utah, Sportsmen for Fish & Wildlife is a charitable, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of SFW is to promote the protection and enhancement of wildlife habitat, assist in providing quality wildlife management programs, educating the public about the role hunters play in wildlife conservation, and perpetuating the family tradition of hunting and fishing.
Visit www.sfw.net or call 801-936-1386.