It’s hard to say what activities Brittany Longoria’s classmates and friends were into at age 11, but chances are good it was not harvesting their first big-game trophies. Longoria didn't know it back then, but a mother-daughter hunt in Texas that resulted in her taking a Black Hawaiian ram at that young age was only the beginning of a lifetime of worldwide hunting achievements, culminating in being honored with one of the greatest recognitions in hunting and conservation, the Safari Club International Diana Award.
Now in its 27th year, the annual award, which has been sponsored by the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum for the last seven years, is named for the mythological Roman goddess who reigned over wild animals and the hunt. The award recognizes women of the SCI who have excelled in international big-game hunting, demonstrated exemplary ethics afield and dedicated their time to enhancing wildlife conservation and public education about hunters and hunting.
Despite challenges presented by the cancellation of SCI’s scheduled 2021 convention, which is usually held in Las Vegas, the presenters did the next best thing to ensure that their newest inductee into this special group of women would be recognized with the requisite pomp and circumstance of the SCI Awards Banquet—they simply changed venues. And what a venue they chose.
From left, Diana winners Brittany Longoria (2021); Susan Hayes (2020); Brenda Potterfield (2019); Denise Welker (2017); Olivia Nalos Opre (2014); Melanie Pepper (2013); Sandra Sadler (2005); Deb Cunningham (2002); Mary Cabela (2001); Ingrid Poole Williams (1998); and the first Diana, Audrey Murtland (1995).
The celebration was held Feb. 4-6, 2021 at Y.O. Ranch Headquarters, owned by WLF Executive Committee Member Sandra Sadler (2005 Diana winner) and her husband Byron, on the historic Y.O. Ranch in the heart of Texas Hill Country. In addition to Sadler, many past Diana winners were in attendance, including Audrey Murtland, now 90.
“I have always admired the women who received the award before me,” said Longoria. “I literally grew up knowing many of them within the hunting community.” She said she always considered the Diana a “lifetime achievement award,” but when she got “the call” from WLF Executive Committee Member Brenda Potterfield, 2019’s Diana winner, to let her know she was selected, she was surprised. “Although I have been hunting for 25+ years, it came as a very humbling honor to be considered amongst such an inspiring group of ladies,” she said.
Longoria said she considers her late father, Joe Hosmer, her biggest hunting mentor, who introduced her to bird hunting in Maine in the early 1990s, where she grew up. Because of those early experiences, Longoria says that hunting grouse and woodcock in Maine in October—over good bird dogs—remain her favorite hunting pastime, while her North American big game of choice is Mountain Goat in British Columbia, Canada.
Longoria has hunted on six continents and taken more than 150 species, as well as more than 40 species of upland birds and waterfowl. Her passion for hunting Africa stems from having working summers in South Africa for safari and game capture companies. Thus the continent remains “near and dear to my heart,” she said, naming buffalo in West and East Africa as her favorite African species. More recently, Longoria said she and her husband, Ricardo, have very much enjoyed hunting Asia, in particular the mountain game species of Pakistan.
At only 34, Longoria has more hunting achievements on her resume than most outdoorswomen twice her years, yet her efforts to create a world in which hunting is recognized for its irrefutable benefits to conservation is only beginning. “My future goals would to be to increase the positive narrative of worldwide hunting, conservation, and humanitarian efforts through my social media, writing, and finishing my Ph.D. in Strategic Communication,” she said.
Toward those efforts, Longoria encourages more women who share their passion for hunting and the Second Amendment to become involved in NRA’s Women’s Leadership Forum. “… We come from all walks of life and are united in the need to get out front on the issues and be a voice for freedom,” she said. “With freedoms and the Second Amendment under attack by an escalating cancel culture movement and anti-hunting extremists, what we do today will have lasting impact on whether future generations—our own children and grandchildren—will enjoy the same freedom we were blessed to have bestowed on us. I am encouraged by the incredible hunter advocacy the NRA supports in Washington and around the world.”
Denise Welker (2017 Diana winner) expounded on the role of the NRA Women's Leadership Forum:
"The Women’s Leadership Forum mission is to bring together women philanthropists and leaders from across the country who share a passion for hunting, shooting, personal protection and, most of all, keeping our cherished Second Amendment strong and secure for generations to come. Without the freedom to hunt and to preserve our hunting traditions, none of us would be here today."
Welker then officially welcomed Longoria into the unique circle of extraordinary circle of accomplished huntresses. "On behalf of the NRA Women’s Leadership Forum, it is our joy and honor to celebrate the accomplishments of a special woman who today joins our Diana sisterhood," she said, before offering this toast:
Here’s to an exceptional hunter, who has traveled the world and made a mark …
Here’s to a shining light, infusing joy and ethical leadership into all she does …
Here’s to an unwavering, vibrant voice speaking out for hunters and conservationists everywhere …
Here’s to our 2021 Diana Award honoree and the newest member of our special sisterhood … Brittany Longoria!"