The Land of Yes

I love these shows.  I guess I’ve been attending them for as long as they’ve been around. Right after each New Year, I start thinking about the Washington Sportsman Show in Puyallup, our neighborhood Central Washington Sportsmen Show, and others I can attend.

Cousin Ron Tanquary insists that each show is a journey to “The Land of Yes!” That started a couple decades ago, after we had wandered down several aisles of the year’s first. I remember the look on his face as he chuckled “Listen to us… We just keep saying ‘Yes,’ ‘Yes,’ ‘Yes!’ at every booth we pass. We wander all these paths, lost in some brochure, mounted fish, antlers, photos, videos or sales pitch. Some girl or guy says, ‘You wanna salmon fish in Canada?’ We say, ‘Yes…’ ‘Wanna hunt New Zealand?’ We say, ‘Yes…’ ‘Wanna win this new Ruger or Kimber?’ and we say ‘Yes! Yes!’  Cousin, we are afield in The Land of Yes!”

Thus, I prepare to wander The Land of Yes for the next couple months. I look forward to the SunDome and Portland in February, and enough adventure to handle another year of reality – maybe. To that end, I shall this weekend journey to The Land of Yes (Washington Sportsmen’s Show) at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. (Check out www.thesportshows.com/shows/washington/.) I have things and people to see there.

Having never fully recovered from being owned by Freebe the Wonder Dog, I’m hooked on Labs and hunting dogs. I look forward to visiting with trainers and owners, and to watching kids with pups, as they realize that a dog is the only true friend that can be bought.

I will check in with survival pro Brett Stoffel. He will either be in his comfortable Toyota camp (warming himself and friends with stories around a small stove) or at one of his daily survival seminars. Brett has helped many folks and families overcome the odds, and survive tough conditions off the beaten path, using simple tools as lifelines.

I expect to learn a few things on the Indoor River, as two of my heroes, Joe Rotter and Shane Magnuson maybe get through my thick skull what it takes to coach a trout out of a tight spot.

That brand new, specially-built kokanee tank is a must. This is the first time kokanee have ever been raised to this size in a hatchery environment for display and demo purposes. Pros from Mack’s Lures will cover kokanee fishing under every condition and in every season.

Having managed to hunt an entire late bull elk season without finding a bull, I need to see the “Northwest Tour of Big Game Animals.” It features a remarkable collection of record-setting bulls (and deer and other critters), and it may help me remember what they look like. There will also be that huge whitetail buck – biggest on record in the Northwest – and the recently-taken heads and horns being measured in this year’s competition.

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

Certainly, I will follow my nose to the Camp Cooking Demo Tent. The Haugens, Bethy Rossos, and others will show me – as they have every year – a game cooking technique or two to make my life better.

There is so much at these shows to which one might say “Yes!” Still, overall, education is always a major draw. During the five days of the Washington Sportsmen’s Show & Sport Fishing Boat Show, there are more than 200 hours of seminars with experts on every sort of hunting and fishing found in Washington. When I ask folks why they come to 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.

Concurrently with each of my visits to The Land of Yes, there will be held meetings of the Reecer Creek Rod, Gun, Working Dog & Outdoor Think Tank Benevolent Association. The primary agenda item for this year’s meetings will be work underway in our Washington State Senate to create a Washington Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. On future banners we hope to see “The children of Washington have the right to discover and experience the outdoors through the following activities: Create an outdoor adventure; Explore a trail; Camp under the stars; Go fishing; Go hunting; Discover nature; Ride a horse; Explore Washington’s heritage; Go on a picnic; Play in a park, in the water, in the snow, on the rocks.” Join the conversation.

Over this weekend, I expect to win firearms and new gear. In my pocket will be winning tickets for a fishing trip out of Westport or Ilwaco, a fully outfitted 17-foot water sled and a safari in New Zealand. I know I will win all these things, I just hope that – this year – they remember to call me when my name comes up.

Take the drive to The Land of Yes in Puyallup, Washington. Every hunting, fishing or getting outside adventure to which you want to say “Yes!” is awaiting you there. Then plan your visit to the Yakima SunDome in a few weeks. These are the pleasures that get us through winter.

Written by Jim Huckabay. Posted in Uncategorized