From bows to broadheads, and shotguns to scopes, the Archery Trade Association (ATA) and Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Shows had everything and anything a deer hunter could want to see. Just as the depression of the end of deer season begins to set in, these two shows get you already planning and strategizing for next season.
Archery Trade Association (ATA) Show
Held in Indianapolis, Indiana, this year, the ATA Show is the true launch of the “show season.” Though not formally open to the public, the show features the latest products revolving around bowhunting and target archery. The show is set up mainly for dealers of local pro shops to stock up on the latest products. Frankly, it’s a show about business and PR.
Unlike most expos across the country, you can walk around and talk to the different exhibitors as well as take a close look at the most recent product releases. My favorite part has to be shooting all new bows for the year. After a short wait in line, you can shoot any new bow you want. For a bowhunting junkie, it’s a dream. You never know when you’ll be ready for a new bow! It’s also a great chance to try a wide variety of manufacturers. Most pro shops or retailers will only carry a few different brands. With today’s bow prices, it’s advantageous to try as many as possible to make sure your investment is the correct one.
If I have a vice in hunting, it’s clothing. From base layers to scent control, I have to stay warm, dry, comfortable, and QUIET during those long all-day sits in the rut. There were some big releases from many of the largest companies in the business from Scentlok to Under Armour. Whether you are a Realtree or Mossy Oak type of hunter, the show had you covered. As a season-long hunter, it’s hard to find that “all season” outfit. Starting in mid-September in Kansas or Missouri when it’s 90-plus degrees, you have to have something light and breathable. By the time November and the rut roll around, the mornings have a firm chill in the air, but it’s not uncommon to see 60 by midday. Personally, I love the late season. Patterning wary bucks heading from cover to food, but man can it get cold! It may be one of the hardest times to hunt, especially when that wind is humming across the Kansas plains and cutting right through you like a knife. I find that it is just as important to have the right base layers, as it is to have a good outer layer.
I always seem to accumulate treestands! I do a fair amount of public land hunting, so I need something light and durable for carrying. But at the same time I don’t want to pay a fortune for something that a lowlife can steal. From Muddy to Summit to Big Game, there are a ton of options. For bowhunting, I have always been a lock-on or hang-on fan. I feel more concealed in a tree versus the exposed staircase of a ladder stand. Likely, nothing to that except my personal preference, but you have to feel at home in a stand because confidence can be the difference between tagging a buck and not.
The ATA Show is my kind of place. Crowds are not nearly as bad as the big brother SHOT Show, and being more of a bowhunter than anything else, it’s a treat to see what is new on the market each year.
Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show
Held in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show did not disappoint! From massive crowds of Americans bleeding the 2nd Amendment, to the coveted Outdoor Channel Golden Moose Awards, the show had so much that I still had trouble covering it all in four days.
Though I could probably spend the next five paragraphs talking about the crazy things I saw in the tactical section, we will keep this one relevant to hunting. The hunting and gun section of the show is enormous. These are your standard exhibitor booths. We’re talking 1000-square-foot, million-dollar-plus booths in some cases. It looks like they basically disassembled a log cabin, brought it in and reassembled it on the show floor.
From the latest technology in ammunition for big game, to new scopes and optics, there was a lot to see at the 2015 SHOT Show. It’s pretty amazing to see all the latest in deer guns from companies like Remington, Beretta and Savage but there are still many that resemble the “ol’ faithfuls.”
Trail cameras are always a high priority on my list. I want to know what the latest changes are in technology and how it will help me become a more efficient scouter and hunter next season. The cellular cameras are still developing with several companies getting closer to having it just right. Other improvements like faster trigger speeds and high-resolution images can all help, but didn’t wow me.
One niche I did see make a big jump was predator hunting. A key tactic in successful deer management, predator hunting is helpful. However, the amount of labor involved in it is just not efficient on large scale controlling. That spot is still held by trapping, which unfortunately is a dying skill in the community.
(Jeremy Flinn photo)
The 15th annual Outdoor Channel Golden Moose Awards made for a great Thursday evening. With perennial favorite MC, Michael Waddell, at the helm and Ted Nugent shredding a guitar in one hand and grilling backstraps with the other, you know it was a great time. You can find a list of winners on OutdoorChannel.com.
The show season kicked off great, now the expos across the country will begin to heat up. It’s a great way to build the anticipation until next season. Well, at least until turkey season!