Photos Courtesy of Texas Wildlife Association
This article is featured in the Summer 2021 issue of Texas LAND magazine. Click here to find out more.
WildLife, our annual convention, is actually a statewide reunion for people who love wild things and wild places,” said David Brimager, TWA’s Director of Public Relations. “Although everyone comes from different walks of life, we’re all kinfolks because of our shared passion for conservation and stewardship.”
WildLife 2021 is slated for July 15–18 at the luxuriously spacious JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa (23808 Resort Parkway) in San Antonio. The premier event attracts more than 1,500 wildlife enthusiasts from across the state each year.
“Our convention delivers three days of education, top-notch networking and fun,” Brimager said.
Thursday, July 15
The event kicks off on Thursday with the 8th Annual Private Lands Summit. The day-long seminar brings in top experts and leading practitioners to provide an in-depth look at a specific topic. This year, the speakers will explore alternative income streams for landowners that run the gamut of experiences ranging from ecotourism to photography and camping.
“Private land stewards voluntarily bear the costs of conservation as they care for their land,” Brimager said. “This year’s Private Lands Summit is designed to showcase successful complementary land use strategies that strengthen the bottom line.”
Friday, July 16
The convention picks up speed on Friday with a host of events including the TWA Foundation Luncheon keynoted by Steve Rinella, host of the Netflix series MeatEater and author of six books on wildlife, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking.
After an afternoon of association meetings, the evening is chock-full of fun. The TWA Trade Show will open its doors, giving outdoors enthusiasts access to almost 100 vendors. The artisans, merchants and service providers offer the latest in wildlife management tools, hand-crafted knives, jewelry, accessories and eye-catching fashion.
“We have a waiting list for vendors who want to participate in our trade show,” Brimager said. “There is something unique for everyone.”
All of the shopping helps attendees work up a big appetite for the TWA Family Reunion Dinner. The casual dinner features a sprawling buffet that allows attendees to mix-and-mingle and connect with friends—old and new.
The reunion dinner immediately precedes the Statewide Texas Big Game Awards Sportsman’s Celebration sponsored by Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships. The TBGA program, which includes white-tailed deer, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, javelina and bighorn, recognizes the hunters who harvested the qualifying animal during the past season and the land managers whose efforts produced the habitat necessary to sustain the animals.
“Some of the state’s most spectacular specimens of wildlife are on display during the celebration,” Brimager said. “It’s easy to see why we say, ‘Hunting Equals Habitat.’”
Saturday, July 17
The convention’s busiest day begins early with the TWA Family Breakfast sponsored by the San Pedro Ranch. Arguably the most important meal of the day is even more important as attendees need fuel (and caffeine) to take in all of the information at the Education Seminars. This year’s topics provide important information on wildlife and habitat management, current issues in conservation, and many other topics of interest to TWA members. (Visit WildLife2021.com to check out this year’s featured topics.)
After a morning of education, attendees gather for lunch and to hear the latest from the TWA’s incoming president and to witness the presentation of TWA’s most prestigious awards: TWA Ray Murski Friend of Wildlife, TWA Charly McTee Outdoor Media Award, TWA Sam Beasom Conservation Leader Award, as well as the TWA Volunteer of the Year.
The event culminates with the Grand and Silent Auctions, which generate about 25 percent of the non-profit’s operating budget for the year.
“The Grand Auction is the granddaddy of them all,” Brimager said. “Our members donate hunts and experiences that generally are not available through any other source.”
A partial list of Grand Auction items includes:
• Exclusive hunts for trophy whitetails, mule deer, quail, nilgai
and other species on private ranches;
• A custom-outfitted hunting jeep by South Texas Outfitters;
• A three-day Córdoba, Argentina Dove Hunt;
• An all-inclusive trip to Belize;
• A Del Mar Racetrack Experience;
• A Kentucky Bourbon Trail Trip;
• And much more.
“We realize these offerings are one-of-a-kind and highly sought after—and that sometimes people’s schedules don’t allow them to attend the convention—so we’ve created opportunities for proxy bidding by phone or through an online bidding format, which anyone can sign up for on the TWA website,” Brimager said.
The Silent Auction offers a wide range of unique, high-quality items ranging from feeders, blinds, optics and firearms to clothing, jewelry and art. Also included in the silent auction is an array of other hunts, fishing trips and vacation packages.
“The auctions are big fun—and big fundraisers that allow TWA to make a difference for Texas wildlife day after day, year after year,” Brimager said.
The Meat of the Matter
Lunch with Steve Rinella
Steve Rinella, host of the wildly popular Netflix series MeatEater, author of six books on wildlife, hunting, fishing and wild game cooking, and influential podcaster, keynotes the annual Texas Wildlife Association Foundation luncheon on Friday, July 16.
“Bringing a message that is equal parts hunting, conservation, education and land-to-table eating, Steve Rinella has reinvigorated outdoor media—and created quite a following that encompasses a diverse audience,” said Greg Simons, Immediate Past President of the Texas Wildlife Association Foundation. “Instead of a ‘rah-rah’ pep talk, Steve delivers pure, deep, knowledgeable conversations on all aspects of our hunting heritage, including the spiritual.”
Simons continued, “He, like TWA, uses hunting as a platform to provide conservation education to people who otherwise might overlook the natural world. We’ve obviously got a lot in common, but Steve also has a unique perspective on hunting, its challenges and our shared heritage, that we’re excited to bring to this year’s annual TWAF luncheon.”
Tickets are $150/person and available at Wildlife2021.com.
All proceeds will benefit TWAF’s education efforts.
ABOUT TWAF: TWAF is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to providing ethical environmental education about wildlife and habitat conservation to Texans of all ages. The activities and programs, all of which are conducted by the Texas Wildlife Association, include hands-on classroom experiences and presentations, distance learning, science curriculum for middle school students, leadership camps, youth hunting opportunities, teacher training and adult education seminars. In 2019, TWA programs reached more than 800,000 Texans with TWA’s message and mission.
The Family-Friendliest Party in Texas
WildLife 2021 will continue the association’s long-standing tradition of throwing the “family-friendliest party in Texas.” All ages are welcome, and often many generations of the same families attend.
“Stewardship and conservation are part of the TWA family legacy that are passed from generation to generation,” David Brimager said. “It’s never too early to take part.”
To that end, TWA staff hosts the TWA
Range Riders Program for attendees’ children ages 4–12 during the Friday and Saturday night events.
“Range Riders is designed to show the kids a great time while teaching them the importance of conservation and introducing them to the majesty of Texas’ wild places,” Brimager said. “We want to encourage their future stewardship of the state’s natural resources.”
Don’t Miss It! Register Now!
Convention registration is open now at Wildlife2021.com
Full Member Registration = $325/person
Children (18 and under) = Free
Private Lands Summit = $120/person
TWA Foundation Luncheon with Steve Rinella = $150/person
*Partial event and special event table reservations are also available.
Room reservations can also be made at Wildlife2021.com
The block room rate is $227 per night and reservations must be made by June 23, 2021.
For more information about TWA, its programs and its membership, go to Texas-Wildlife.org.