John Sturgeon: Safari Club International walks the walk for conservation and hunting in Alaska



As the president of Safari Club International Alaska, I would like to respond to some of the claims made in an opinion piece in Must Read Alaska from April 27, 2022, titled, “Fritz Pettyjohn: Sarah Palin, Trump, and Alaska lands.” I found a number of points made by the author to be not just problematic, but completely false and inaccurate. 

To be clear, Safari Club International and SCI Alaska’s Chapter supports hunting and fishing access for everyone. We understand the value in hunting and conservation and how the two go hand-in-hand. Safari Club International’s motto is “First for Hunters” and we definitely walk the talk.

To characterize Safari Club International as “wealthy trophy hunters” is absolutely false. The vast majority of members are ordinary hunters that love the outdoors and want to provide food for themselves and their families. They cherish the time in the field with friends and family that provide memories for a lifetime. It is Safari Club International’s goal to enable them to do just that and here is how we do that.

Safari Club International advocates for hunters rights in Juneau and Washington. With the constant attacks on our hunting traditions that is a full time job.

Safari Club International is first for youth education in hunting and shooting sports. We sponsor wilderness leadership grants for teachers and award scholarships for outdoor careers. We sponsor numerous youth shooting programs.

Safari Club International is most proud of our hunting programs for wounded warriors. Each year we contribute over $40,000 for various hunting programs for our veterans. Every year the State awards six special moose hunting permits to Purple Heart recipients. Safari Club International Alaska sponsors all six of those veterans including transportation, licenses, tags, meat processing, and the shipment of the meat. 

Lastly we support Fish and Game’s efforts to manage Alaska’s wildlife. In 2022 Safari Club International Alaska wrote a check to the department for over $300,000. When matched with federal grant funds, the department has over $1.2 million to help manage Alaska’s precious wildlife. 

 I would hope that next time Mr. Pettyjohn will do his homework before mischaracterizing Safari Club International’s membership and its goals. SCI remains “First for Hunters.”

John Sturgeon is president of Safari Club International Alaska.


  1. If I’m not mistaken didn’t Safari Club promote one of our Alaskan guides as Hunter of the Year a short while ago? Our guide had meticulously planned a successful hunt for a paraplegic fellow and I think it was through the Safari Club program which gave him the chance to do something he never thought was possible. Whatever is wrong with this Pettyjohn fellow?

  2. I’m sticking with you, John. I appreciate all of your time and effort, but especially your commitment to service for the greater good. Let’s keep doing as much as we can for our fellow Alaskans for as long as we can.

  3. Safari Club International opposes the Transfer of Federal Lands (TFL) to the states. They convinced Trump to take their position. TFL can happen with a Republican President who supports it.
    Alaskans want their land. They don’t want to dicker with a federal landlord over hunting or anything else.

    • Federal land doesn’t belong to the states. This is established law and does not need to be revisited. And I trust trained professional biologists in federal land management agencies far more than political hacks and lightweights like Corrie Feige and Doug Vincent-Lang.

      • Lucinda, The Feds may own the Land, just as you may hold title to your property but the State owns the Game and Fish upon your land.
        Also as for political hacks managing resources you need look no further then to the damage done by Federal regulators both currently and prior to Statehood. The Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game has done good work since it’s inception and continues to do so despite the political pressures brought to bear from external sources.

  4. Let’s be clear, John has done some great work on access issues for Alaskans. And SCI members have provided funding and man hours for numerous efforts benefiting many in Alaska. But don’t kid yourself, the organization is called “Safari Club International.” Even though they have local chapters, which is good, by their own mission sense they are globally focused – not that that’s a bad thing. My point is they are not as locally focused as say the Chitina Dipnetters, Tanana Valley Sportsmen’s, Kodiak Island Sportsman’s, Matanuska Valley Sportsmen, Alaska Outdoor Access Alliance, Alaska Professional Hunters Association, South Central Alaska Dipnetters Association, and many more. Not to mention probably the most visible group working on Alaska outdoor policy is the Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC). I worked in Alaska’s House of Representatives for 17 years as a Chief of Staff for 3 different legislators. Every session (and in between) these people were there educating policymakers on issues important to Alaska’s outdoor enthusiast. From Hunting & Fishing to Snowgos, Airboats, and Trapping they worked hard for Alaska and every one of it’s member clubs. Yes SCI, Rocky Mt Elk, Ruff Grouse, and the NRA are all member groups as well. The difference to me is our Alaska groups have Charters focused on primarily Alaskans concerns. These groups members are more micro focused on Alaska’s issues and not macro as in Game in Africa. From that prospective, I’m inclined to see it from Fritz’s view. It’s funny how when you butcher someone calf (club) they all come out of the barn.
    If any one deserves the appreciation SCI seems to think they deserve, it AOC, it’s Members, it’s Board, Ron Arno, and Jeff Logan. Truly a group worthy of appreciation for ALL their work over the years. Maybe the Trumps could learn something from these folks about Alaska.

  5. Despite the Good Work of SCI and others just this year we have seen an erosion of access rights to Federal Lands in Alaska State GMU 23. The decision to prohibit “non-local” hunters from using these lands has zero basis in Science, but somehow the Federal Board made their irrational decision.

    • The Boards decision wasn’t irrational. The Western Arctic Caribou Herd declined by 24% in 2 years, rural users haven’t been able to harvest caribou for the last several years, and the Board has a legal obligation under Title VIII of ANILCA to maintain a Federal subsistence priority.

      The Supremacy Clause may be something you don’t like but it’s in that pesky Constitution of ours so you best learn to live with it.

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