By Christine Patton
Rod & Gun Honors Nelson Sims
Last Tuesday was the Rod and Gun Club’s annual dinner event, and this year was a fun and casual Men’s Night Out. Even though the ladies were left out, the dress code of hunting/fishing garb made for an attractive crowd of camo and sea foam-colored shirts with the occasional strong shots of neon orange, proving once again that it’s the males of the species that sport the most vibrant plumage.
Held at Waterside, there was plenty of space for fun and games, especially those skill-based challenges — net-throwing, axe toss, and video marksmanship — that are unique to the Rod and Gun society. More conventional swag bags and raffles were also present, but it was the tantalizing buffet that everyone was talking about. The OR Culinary staff really went all in on the hunting theme, with tiny quail (provided by Ignacio Borbolla), duck risotto, elk wellington and venison chili (served in little pseudo-shotgun shells!) followed by the traditional pie and ice cream that real He-men require.
The speakers were equally appropriate for the happy, hearty menfolk in the audience — locker room humor. Had Fuller led off the joke-telling with some wonderful stories, followed by classicist Leonard Wood and the master, Tom Davidson, Sr.
The centerpiece of the evening was Gus Hillenbrand’s introduction of Nelson Sims as Sportsman of the Year. Gus had a photo montage that spanned over a decade of travel — in his estimation, 50 fishing and hunting trips that Nelson had taken with many of those at the dinner. He described Nelson’s roles as a sportsman, a conservationist, an environmentalist and a founding member of organizations that support those causes, like Bonefish and Tarpon Trust and the Rod and Gun Club, both of which he went on to chair and lead to significant growth. In addition, Nelson led ORC as chairman through the difficult 2008-09 years, and even oversaw the Chapel through its design and construction, leaving each institution in a stronger, more vibrant state. His secret to a successful board? “Get the right guys on the Board and it will be easy.”
Nelson himself said that he has always loved the outdoors and hunting, starting with his first BB gun as a 6-year-old, a 20-gauge at 8, and so on. As his grandfather started him shooting, so he has done with his children and grandchildren, teaching them gun safety while helping them practice with sporting clays at the R&G range as well as home in Colorado. He remains an active hunter himself, bagging his first turkey just this year. Looks like we got the right guy for this award.