For many years the hunting community took the right and opportunity to hunt and fish for granted. ‘Cecil the Lion’ caught hunters off guard and unprepared, an unprovoked and unwarranted attack on hunting. But like Pearl Harbour, it woke a slumbering giant, filling us with resolve to protect hunting and the values and reputations of hunters.
Throughout the hunting community hunters are fighting back, telling our story of conservation and community; the importance of sustenance, recreation, conservation and stewardship, and the spiritual relationship between hunters and nature.
Leading this fight are outfitters like Darren DeLuca of the Wild Conservation and Investment Corp. Darren understands the new realities facing hunters, and the importance of protecting the right to hunt and fish. Utilizing the strengths afforded in a free market society, and the principles espoused in the North American Wildlife Model, DeLuca has launched an ambitious, innovative approach to protect our hunting heritage.
- What is the Wildlife Conservation and Investment Corp. all about?
I created Wild – that’s our operating name – to bring an investor-based approach to hunting and conservation. An important part of protecting the hunting right is preserving the outfitting industry so hunters have the opportunity to hunt.
- Is guided hunting and outfitting in jeopardy?
It is. Like many small mom-and-pop businesses, outfitting faces many of the same challenges of increasing regulation, raising capital, and succession planning. Added to that is the current political climate and many outfitting businesses and families have an uncertain future. Without an outfitting industry hunters and wildlife will suffer. Here in BC, the purchase of the outfitting operations on the coast of BC by an anti-hunting organization are a case in point. The same is happening in Africa as well.
- How can Wild help?
Wild taps the passion and financial strength of the hunting community by creating an investment pool to support the outfitting industry. By combining private equity with experienced outfitters, we are able to renew and retain outfitting infrastructure. It allows us to apply economies of scale to outfitting businesses and raise the standards.
- What kind of standards?
Conservation and stewardship, health and safety. Business functions like marketing and administration.
- What kind of hunts does Wild offer?
Our base of operations is on Vancouver Island where we own two large hunting territories. On the Island we offer hunts for coastal black bear, Roosevelt elk, Columbia blacktail deer and cougars. We are expanding our footprint into Alberta, first for mule deer and whitetails, and then moose and elk. We are also on the lookout for more hunting territories in BC.
- How long have you been in the guide and outfitting business?
I started guiding in the early 80’s and bought my first guide area in 2003, Vancouver Island Guide Outfitters. It’s been an incredibly rewarding life; both the people I’ve met and the things that I have seen. It keeps you grounded in a way that only living off the land can do.
- Do you have hunts you would like to feature?
We have a great Buddy Hunt available right now for this fall. It’s an all-inclusive 5-day coastal black bear hunt for 2 hunters for $5,000 per person, plus your tags and tax. For hunters who have always wanted to hunt the coast on the salmon streams this is a great opportunity. We are also able to offer mule deer hunts in November, but there is limited availability.
- How can people get in touch with you about hunting and more information on Wild?