1/28 & 1/29
Ever wonder what goes on at those hyped-up sportsman shows? I wondered too. I listened to promotions promising seminars, demonstrations, new products, and rock-bottom prices. I bought a two-day pass, packed a backpack with snacks, water bottles, camera, and pen and paper to take notes. I stuffed a handful of credit cards in my front pocket, loaded up the dog, and rented a hotel near the event to minimize driving time and maximize learning time. My expectations were a little high. I know this now.
I planned to buy a new pack for my dog, Jasper. I pictured a snappy red saddle bag with room for his water bottle, treats, and poop baggies. I planned to browse the camp cooking tent for innovative ideas for preparing clams and oysters. I’ve been eating a lot these lately and need a new twist. I knew I’d get caught up fingering lures, jigs, and bobbers, and knew I’d sit at the helm of boats I could not afford. I had no intention of purchasing a boat, but dreaming is free, or I should say that $18 buys a two-day dream pass.
I’ll get to the point. The Sportsman Show was a buzz kill and the hotel hot-tub was out of order. Talk about a disappointing weekend. I scoured three buildings at the Puyallup fairgrounds for something to buy, something to learn, something to entertain. I found nothing for Jasper and almost nothing for myself. The cook tent was uninspiring to say the least. Seminars were sales pitches, and not the learning opportunities imagined.
I did chat with interesting folks, mostly guides trying to entice hopeful clients with their One-Day Only Specials. There was nothing really all that special, rows and rows of guides offering the same thing. There were even several safari guides with worn-out, taxidermy lions, tigers, and other exotics.
I like the idea of a guide, especially if the guide teaches and shows you were to hunt or fish. To me, that knowledge is worth paying for. But I have no space to contemplate a guided tour of an elk farm and killing a trophy while the trophy munches a flake of alfalfa. I won’t gun down a wild hog while it eats at feeder in the fenced perimeter of a California ranch. There were plenty of those operations promising the hunting opportunity of a lifetime with a guaranteed kill. I’ll pass. First of all, I don’t want to fork out 4k to shoot a tame Elk, or 2K to fire on a content, well-fed hog. To me, that’s not hunting. That’s butchering a captive animal, like slaughtering a farmer’s cow in a pasture.
Some things held my attention. The fishing gear was bright and alluring, and I climbed into several boats. I also met a sweet couple running Big Salmon Fishing Resort in Neah Bay, offering tours off the northernmost point of Washington. It’s a spring and summer sort of thing, and $200 bucks will get me on the water for a chance to stock the freezer with 12 ling cod and two salmon. The wife keeps a blog of fish tales. I promised to look her up, and you can too: Bigsalmonresort.net.
My big purchase was a new app for my iphone. Sportsman Big Game Reg is an app that puts yearly state hunting regulations and updates at your fingertips, provided you have cell signal. Through this app, a user may purchase a license, report a poaching crime, read up on rules and regulations, and research a hunting area. The creators have included several states besides Washington, and plan for expansion. It’s all pretty darned impressive. I picked up the app for the discounted price of 99 cents, and begged them to develop a fishing version.
Basically, the weekend was kind of a bust, much less infomative than I anticipated. But Jasper seemed to have a decent time. He received a wealth of attention, plenty of pats, and numerous scratches behind the ears. He remained immune to sales pitches and socialized with vendors like a rock star. There was also a flood of little kids for him to pet (lick), and Jasper adores his tiniest fans.