If you’ve peeked out the window lately, then you are painfully aware that winter has hit.

After all the hunting seasons are closed what’s a guy to do? Set around and drink lattes and get fat? No! The show season is nearly 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.

SEMINARS

I love hitting the shows and attending the seminars. Every seminar that I’ve ever been to I’ve learned something. And the bigger the shows, 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.

And of course, I like doing seminars at the shows. January will be a busy month for me. The first week I’ll have four seminars at the SCI Conv. in Reno, the next week two seminars at the DSC Conv. & Expo in Dallas and then the last week five at the SHOT Show in Vegas. So I’ll be swamped.

NEW GEAR

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 knick knacks and are trying to make a go of it. You’ll see gear you’ve never seen before.

A buddy told me 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.

GEAR

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 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 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 and then buy.

GUIDES

If you’ve been wanting to hire a guide to hunt/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 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 $25,000.00 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 set 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. etc. There can be a lot of hidden costs that they take for granted that you knew about but you didn’t have a clue.

Let the shows begin!  

Tom Claycomb is an outdoor enthusiast and writes a bi-monthly column for the Humboldt Sun.