After all the hunting seasons are closed, what’s a guy to do? Sit around and drink lattes and get fat? No! The show season is upon us, so get out and hit some of the outdoor shows.
I like going to outdoor shows for a lot of reasons, besides the obvious reason that it’s usually cold and the weather is miserable by then and I’m bored stiff. Here’s a few other reasons that I enjoy them.
I love hitting the shows and attending the seminars. At every seminar I’ve ever attended, I’ve learned something. And the bigger the show, usually the better the speakers. Although I must throw out a disclaimer. Sometimes at smaller shows you’ll have a gung-ho young local guy and he’ll share everything that he knows and not hold back like some of the older dogs do.
And of course in January and February, I’ll be conducting a lot of seminars at the shows. January will be a busy month for me. The first week, I had two seminars at the Dallas Safari Club Convention and Sporting Expo. Jan. 20-24 is the SHOT Show, which is the largest outdoor show in the world (I’ll write an article on that show in the near future) and I’ll have three seminars there. On Feb. 6, the Safari Club International Convention in Reno kicks off, and I’ll have four seminars there. So I’ll be swamped.
If you are in need of new gear, hit the shows. Many times, manufacturers will have booths set up and be offering show specials. Plus, you’ll see a lot of new gear not offered in the big-box stores. I see a lot of creative hunters/fishermen that invented new little knickknacks and are trying to make a go of it. You’ll see gear you’ve never seen before.
A buddy told me that to get your product into Cabela’s, you have to let them list it on their internet sales for two years. Then if it does good, they’ll offer it in the store. Gee, you could have a great product and go broke before you ever got to put it in front of a customer. That’s where shows have helped jump start many struggling little companies. So you’re likely to see gear you’ve never seen before. That’s where I met SneakyHunter BootLamps.
Then in addition to all the new products discussed above, there’ll also be a lot of booths with old gear. By old I don’t mean old, but rather what you will find in the stores. There may be show specials. For instance, if you’re in the market for a backpack, this may be a good spot to find one.
But please look around. People drive me nuts with their impulsive shopping habits. I remember one year I had eight seminars at a show. A buddy of mine worked for Blacks Creek Guide Gear, which is one of the top backpack companies in the country, and they had a booth in back. I don’t know how many people I saw that walked in the front door and walked straight to the first booth and bought a backpack. I know for sure that Robert had much better packs in back. Look around before you buy.
If you’ve been wanting to hire a guide to hunt or fish this is a great place to meet them. At the Boise show, I see some of the guides that I know from up in Alaska.
And if you want to go on an exotic safari, SCI and DSC are the two shows to hit. You can sign up for all manner of big game, bird hunting or fishing adventures. It’s almost painful to walk the aisles and see all of the cool hunts they are offering if you’re on a peon’s salary.
Most of the time, you can tell by talking to a guide if he is any good or not. But for sure, check references. You don’t want to waste 10 days and $25,000 on a bad deal.
And to get even deeper, you need to determine if their set-up is for you. You need to be honest with yourself. What is your main goal? To some people, it is important that they are back to the lodge by dusk and served a great dinner cooked by a chef and to sit around the proverbial camp fire and drink until midnight.
To other outdoorsmen, the whole objective is to hit it hardcore and be successful. Different guides specialize in different flavors. Make sure you pick the right flavor or you’ll be disappointed.
Be crystal clear on what is provided and what isn’t. Do they handle the shipping back of your trophies? Get all of the necessary tags, etc.? There can be a lot of hidden costs that they take for granted that you never knew about.
And you even have a gun show in La Grande in February. I always find stuff I can’t live without at every gun show I hit. Don’t you? Let the shows begin!
Tom Claycomb lives in Idaho and has outdoors columns in newspapers in Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Colorado and Louisiana.