Yampa Valley Chapter of Safari Club International named Chapter of the Year | CraigDailyPress.com

Yampa Valley Chapter of Safari Club International named Chapter of the Year

Nicole Inglis

Jenni Reinier stands in Big Cat Taxidermy, the shop she and her husband, Leland, own in Craig. The shop also serves as headquarters for the Yampa Valley Chapter of Safari Club International, which, in its second year, won Chapter of the Year for chapters with 25 to 50 members at SCI's annual national convention.
Shawn McHugh

In October 2009, Leland Reinier guided two men on a hunting trip on local land.

The men, who were veterans, needed a special permit to hunt from their vehicle because they were both unable to walk, having been wounded in combat.

A letter from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Grand Junction confirmed what Leland witnessed:

"The veterans will remember this hunt for the rest of their lives," VA Medical Center officials wrote after the hunt. "The camaraderie while looking for antelope was wonderful. Both veterans said they had a great time and will always remember the hunt."

Both veterans took home an antelope that day, an opportunity provided by the local chapter of Safari Club International, which paid for the veterans' hunting tags, transportation and accommodations.

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The Yampa Valley Chapter of SCI was created in August 2008 when Leland and his wife, Jenni Reinier, saw a need for the organization dedicated to wildlife preservation, hunting education and protecting the freedom to hunt.

"We had been attending the banquets in Glenwood Springs," Jenni said. "And we realized we could really use something locally with Craig being such a hunting community.

"We saw that we could really use a local chapter and that we could do a lot of good for the community."

All of the work the Reiniers and their fellow SCI members have done was recognized at the annual national SCI convention in January in Reno, Nev.

Leland, who represented the local chapter, was presented with the Chapter of the Year award for chapters with 25 to 50 members.

Using funds from the club's first fundraising banquet in April 2009 — which raised $30,000 —the organization was able to sponsor and spearhead several events that caught the eye of the SCI award committee.

Using its close relationship with the Division of Wildlife, SCI sponsored a youth pheasant hunt in September 2009 that gave 12 local children an opportunity to learn hunter safety and field dressing techniques.

The club sponsored the transport of three moose to the Meeker area to keep populations at an optimal level.

It sponsored six women who had never hunted before to participate in the Women Afield Program. Three women bagged an antelope, but all experienced a bonding and learning experience by spending days out in the wild, Jenni said.

Part of SCI's mission is to reach out to youths, women and those who wouldn't usually be exposed to hunting.

"It's basically just the youth are our future hunters," Jenni said. "It's getting them involved in hunting and wildlife conservation because that's the future of the entire thing.

"As for the women, some of them were single moms, and some don't have the opportunity to just go out and hunt."

Jenni was raised by a single mother and never expressed an interest in hunting until she met Leland, an avid sportsmen, and married him in 2004.

It took her a few years to warm up to the idea of hunting and become comfortable around guns, but she finally went on her first hunting excursion in the fall and said it was an experience she hopes to continue to share through SCI.

"I just got my hunter safety, and I brought in an antelope, a mule deer buck, a bull elk and a mountain lion," she said.

"It's exciting. I was just happy that I made a good shot. And our 3 1/2-year-old daughter was with us each time we went hunting, too."

She said she hopes her daughter will grow up a hunter, or at least retain the respect for wildlife and the freedom to hunt that her parents embody.

"Obviously, hunting puts food on your table and she understands that whole process," Jenni said. "And I think it's important to know those things."

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