All about Trips to Fantasy Island

I love these outdoor shows. One of the best things about them is that each is an island unto itself. Sometimes you take a boat, sometimes you drop in from the air, sometimes there is a bridge, and sometimes you have to swim out, but a walk around any Fantasy Island is always worth the effort it takes to get there. As each New Year arrives, I start anticipating the trips. In the next few weeks, I will journey to secluded islands in Puyallup, in Portland, and under the SunDome.

I already know how each trip will go. As I step into the adventure-charged air of each isolated island, my senses will fill with visions, sounds and scents of outdoor possibilities – fine fishing gear, new firearms, campfire cooking and unexplored lands. At some point, as I begin to lose myself in fantasies of outdoor times, some carefully-coiffed and uniformed person will take my pass, stamp my hand, and say, “Welcome, sir, to Fantasy Island!”

Thus, I prepare to wander across the Fantasy Islands of January and February. Once I have immersed myself in the hundreds of fantastic adventures to be found there, I will be able to handle another year of reality. Maybe…

To that end, I shall this weekend journey to the Washington Sportsmen’s Show. Since Wednesday, it has been the Fantasy Island at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. I have things and people to see there.

I will first find old friend Peter Kummerfeldt (son Tim’s survival instructor back in his Air Force Academy days). Peter will be perched in a comfortable Toyota camp, warming himself and friends with stories around a small stove, as he has been for more than two decades at these shows. We’ll talk about his family’s plans for new adventures, and ventures, now that Peter has decided that this is his final year of touring with the O’Laughlin Shows. For fifty years, he’s been teaching folks how easy it is to keep themselves and their families out of trouble, and this will be a last chance to get personal coaching at the sportsmen’s show. His book Surviving a Wilderness Emergency has become a staple for outdoor families everywhere, as they put together their own survival kits. Peter will talk about his group’s latest field research results, and show how easy it is to create his “Hunter’s Day Pack.” I will again recommend that families check out his gear and coaching at www.outdoorsafe.com. We’ll have another memorable visit.

I will go into the Old West tent and watch “Quick Cal” Eilrich give us all a chance to win prizes at the “Cowboy Fast Draw,” using classic Colt .45 style six guns. Safety is first, fun is second, and laughter and a good time is everything else. Quick Cal is a 17-time World Fast Draw Champ and his team of NRA-certified instructors and professional shooters will coach anyone up.

I expect to learn a few things on the Steelhead River, as Jim Teeny and local hero Joe Rotter finally (maybe) get through my thick skull what it takes to coach a steelie out of a tight spot.

Having managed to hunt an entire late bull elk season without finding a bull, I want to see this year’s “Northwest Tour of Big Game Animals.” It features a first-ever collection of record-setting bulls, and I’m thinking it will help me remember what they look like. There will also be that huge whitetail buck – biggest on record in the Northwest – taken by a 14-year-old bowhunter. Just down the trail will be the heads and horns being measured in this year’s competition.

No doubt, I will watch youngsters fishing at the “Kid’s Free Trout Pond” for a time. There is something ageless about watching a boy or girl hook and land a trout, and their excitement about bringing home a fresh fish for the family.

I want to hear Nate Brence talk about family-style hunting and his take on the gear for a hunt with wife and kids. Sam Kolb is on my list, too, because of his success in helping parents successfully introduce their kids to safe hunting. He covers everything from locations and tags to shooting. Of course, any time my friend Shane Magnuson talks fishing or bait or outdoors, it’s a treat, so he’s on my list, too.

Finally, I will follow my nose to the Fred Meyer Camp Cooking Tent. Tiffany Haugen will show me – as she has every year – a game cooking technique or two to make my life better.

Through it all, I will meet booth people, guides and outfitters and other outdoor nuts with lots of useful and surprising knowledge. I will wander Asian mountains and Australian deserts. It will be a great time.

Take the drive to Fantasy Island in Puyallup. Every fantasy you’ve had about hunting, fishing or getting outside can be fed while you are wandering the island. It’s one of those things that gets us through winter.

Welcome to Fantasy Island.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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