At Last – Fantasy Season

The Old Man treasured these quiet days of winter; food was put up and a good meal for five was a few steps down into the root cellar (a cellar which is, today, buried somewhere under the entrance to Costco in East Wenatchee).

At those times when he actually sat down and leaned back, he might say, “Soon it’s fishing season again, boy. Then we’ll get the garden going and start the season of fresh home-grown. After your hard work – when you’re not gone fishing or whatever you do out there – we’ll have the season of harvest and putting up fruit and vegetables, and maybe dove and quail and pheasant season will put up some birds. Then deer season will bring us some good meat off Uncle Ed’s place up the Chumstick. After that, maybe you can bring your mom some ducks to can. Finally it’ll be this time here, when we think about all we did and what we’ll do this year ahead; this is our ‘Fantasy Season,’ Jimmy.”

And Fantasy Season it is. Two weeks ago, I dropped in on the International Sportsmen’s Expo in Denver (it just happened to coincide with a couple business meetings). The Tri-Cities Sportsmen Show was last weekend. The Washington Sportsmen’s Show kicked off two days ago in Puyallup and is on through Sunday. In two weeks, the Pacific Northwest Sportsmen’s Show will happen in Portland, followed by two weekends of Sportsmen Shows in Yakima and Wenatchee. I’m not sure if this is quite what The Old Man had in mind, but at one or another of these shows –for a fraction of the price of a jug of your favorite snake bite remedy – you will be able to explore almost every outdoor fantasy you ever had.

Let’s start in Puyallup. These O’Loughlin shows (Puyallup and Portland) pretty much set the standard. What’s your fishing, hunting, camping or cooking fantasy?

One of the big draws is education. No matter how experienced we are (or how many nights, weeks and months we’ve spent afield through our lives) there is always another tip or approach to make us better. Then, too, a good many of the men and women who walk into these shows are there to open a door into a lifetime of living outdoor dreams.

During the five days of the show that’s now playing – the Sportsmen’s & Sport Fishing Boat Show at the Puyallup Fairgrounds – there are more than 100 hours of seminars with experts on every sort of hunting and fishing found in Washington. Add to that the five days of cooking, sausage-making and smoking demos with several of the best camp cooks in the country, the dog training and the boat handling. When I ask folks why they come to any of the shows, these learning opportunities are always near the top of their list. We all fantasize about being the best at something, and it starts with expert mentoring.

My old friend and survival pro Peter Kummerfeldt retired from the sportsmen show circuit, and widely-known Brett Stoffel will now help you be ready when you or your family land in a tight spot. Brett and Peter both have stories of men and women telling of lifelong dreams of helping someone survive – and then using what the guys taught them to make it reality.

Want to know what a really big buck or bull or other critter looks like? Each of the shows will have places where hunters might bring their game animals for measuring or competition in the “Head and Horn” displays. Outfits like Bushnell, RCBS, Danner, Hoppe’s, Gerber, Weaver, Primos, Ruger, Les Schwab and Fort Knox all pitch in to bring a Tour of Northwest Big Game Animals to some of the shows. Most of us harbor fantasies about running into one of these monsters in the woods – and there they are. As you admire and dream, remind yourself and those around you that 100 years ago most of these animals were nearly gone; there are big animals in big healthy populations today because hunters started footing the cost of conservation over a century ago.

Then, there are the exhibitors’ booths (hundreds of them in Puyallup) and all those folks offering you the chance to live out a fishing fantasy in Alaska or Canada or South America or just down most any road in Washington. Or they’ll offer you a shot at fulfilling almost any hunting fantasy you have most anywhere in the world today. Chase a Marco Polo ram across the highest mountains in the world or a wild hog in Texas. What’s your fantasy?

Need ammo or a new firearm or fishing gear or any kind of outdoor clothing? You can buy it or win it – you just have to show up and play.

Be amazed at the “Cowboy Fast Draw” competition, and even be part of it. Get a kid to the free fishing pond, or just watch youngsters’ faces as they bring in a trout.

The season is open, and it is just over the hill in Puyallup. What’s your fantasy?

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized

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