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Saturday, February 04, 2006

It's Showtime For Outdoorsmen!

by Steve Sorensen
(Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, Warren, PA., February 4, 2006.)
Sportsman's shows are a virtual cabin fever festival.
Right around Groundhog Day, winter begins to infect the outdoorsman with a bad case of cabin fever. One cure is to grab a friend and head for one of our area outdoor sport shows. It's good medicine, and easy to take.

Pennsylvanians are well positioned for "show season". We have easy driving access to some of the nation's top shows where you can attend some seminars, see new products, and rub elbows with countless professionals involved in hunting and fishing. It's an opportunity worth taking.

If you're planning a hunting or fishing trip in the near future, sport shows are the place to begin investigating your options. Guides and outfitters are there to sell their services, and want to sign up clients. But it's also a public relations game for them, so their time is your time.

Even if that hunting or fishing trip is not on your calendar for a few more years, you'll take an important first step by collecting some brochures, and listening to the questions other hunters ask. You'll learn what to look for, and what to look out for. You'll pick up lots of pointers on what to ask when it's time to get serious about planning your own trip of a lifetime, and figure out what realistic expectations are.

Representatives from national conservation societies also populate the booths at outdoor shows. They're signing up new members and promoting the worthy goals of their clubs. You can also learn about state and regional organizations. Take some of their literature and read it while you wait for turkey and trout openers.

Big manufacturer's representatives as well as small but creative entrepreneurs will keep your attention as they demonstrate their products. If there is piece of equipment you've been thinking of adding to your personal inventory, the shows are a good place to see it, hear it, touch it, and maybe even smell it. The latest camo, game callers, bows, and scents are just a few of our favorite things that are plentiful at the shows. In fact, it's a good idea to take along a shoulder satchel -- and a little money to spend on things to put in it.

The BIG show starts today in Harrisburg and goes until February 12. That gives you plenty of time to get there, but give yourself plenty of time once you are there. The Eastern Sport and Outdoor Show is the largest of its kind anywhere in North America, and it fills the huge State Farm Show Complex. Guides and outfitters from around the world come here. If you want to see everything and get a feel for the things that interest you, plan on spending the better part of two days -- because it's "gi-normous"!

Programs at the Eastern Sport Show include "The Great Elk Tour," the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation's premier traveling conservation exhibit. It showcases mounts of the largest and most unusual bull elk in the world, and it's a must-see if you're interested in big elk.

Seminars and contests are available, along with activities for children. You'll have the chance to acquaint yourself with what goes into great taxidermy, and pick the brains of experts in virtually every kind of hunting and fishing. In one word, EVERYTHING is there. To plan your visit around the activities you want to see, check out the details at www.EasternSportShow.com.

The big one isn't the only show around. You can also make one-day trips to nearby Erie (March 3-5) and Hamburg, New York. (March 9-12). Here is an opportunity to see the NRA Great American Whitetail Collection, watch or participate in a NWTF sanctioned turkey calling contest, or attend one of several seminars. Going online at www.SportAndTravelExpo.com gets you information on these two.

The last two shows I'll mention (although there are several more available) are the Allegheny Sport Show (February 15-19) at the Monroeville ExpoMart and the Cleveland Sport, Travel & Outdoor Show (March 11-19) at the I-X Center. The sheer number of seminars at these shows are worth many times the single admission price. Check out what's in store for you at www.SportAndTravel.com.

Sportsman's shows are a virtual cabin fever festival. They offer a wholesome change of environment that does the body, mind and spirit good. Just the anticipation helps keep you from going stir crazy. So, attend one of our area sport shows and chase away the winter blues.


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