Kevin Costner was honored with PCQC’s T. Boone Pickens Lifetime Sportsman of the Year award at the event, and after greeting and being photographed with many of the attendees, gave an uplifting and emotional response, including memories of hunting with his late father.
The Yellowstone star shared the story of his first rifle, his grandfather’s .30-30 bought for $20. “I took it to show-and-tell at school,” Costner said. “I remember being sent home with a note pinned to my shirt. I didn’t know how to read then but I came to know that if my parents wanted the gun back they would have to go and get it.”
Costner said the gun was too heavy for him to hold, but it didn’t keep him from practicing without bullets.
“The night before my dad was to leave on a deer hunt he realized the firing pin was broken — I had dry fired it so much.”
Years later, and after he owned a shotgun, Costner saw a man out hunting with his dog, a vizsla.
“I pulled the car over and just watched this private interaction between this man and his dog,” he said. “It was like art to me, like poetry to me. It was right in front of me, and my life changed forever. The next day I bought a bird dog, a little German shorthair. And suddenly the world wasn’t flat.”
Costner shared his final hunt with his father, a pheasant hunt, with the crowd.
“He couldn’t walk the fields anymore,” he said. “I asked the owner if we could go someplace by ourselves. He said there was an electric golf cart we could take and that he had seen some pheasants in the orchards.”
After the hunt and getting a few birds, his father let him know.
“This is our last hunt, son,” he told him.
Costner played a song recorded by his band, Kevin Costner & Modern West, about the hunt, saying he still can’t perform it live, that included the refrain:
Feeling like the last time I see you again Feeling like the last time, this could be the end
Having you close, getting the most
Of every moment with you
Feeling like the last time I see you again
Costner thanked the crowd in the room and the organization they support.
“This a room that collectively could move mountains,” he said. “You gather here to protect and provide for a small bird — that we intend to hunt until our legs give out — the same as our beloved dogs. We will never be able to explain this to a cynical world.
Monies raised for quail conservation and research showed why the event is called “Conservation’s Greatest Night.” In the span of a few hours, the event grossed more than $3.5 million and netted a record $2.8 million, with more than $2 million being raised in the live auction.”
A trip on Carl Allen’s yacht, in Walker’s Cay in the Bahamas, sold for $650,000; and two trips to T. Boone Pickens’ former Panhandle ranch sold for $145,000 each.
“It was clear to everyone in the room that Kevin’s passion for hunting and the outdoors is real and authentic and not just a character he plays in movies,” PCQ President Raymond Morrow said. “The night couldn’t have gone better. The event was totally sold out and the energy in the room was electric.”
Costner concluded by returning to that first rifle, the .30-30 he got when he wasn’t yet able to read.
“If you watch closely on Yellowstone, you’ll see the gun that I carry on the show — the one that goes into the scabbard on my horse — it is that very gun.”