While I wait out the last few days before the archery season with anticipation, my thoughts return to early August and the Fall Hunting Classic I attended at the Bass Pro Shop in Springfield Missouri. After traveling those familiar roads back home through the Ozark's region my family walked the Bass-Pro Pavilion with countless other folks like ourselves that had gathered to see the latest hunting and outdoor products and maybe even catch a glimpse of familiar faces from their favorite outdoor hunting shows. This year's Fall Hunting Classic truly brought a whole new attitude toward the industry as well as my approach to hunting and outdoor writing.
In an alcove off the main pavilion, archers representing various bow manufacturers stood at ready taking their turn drilling the moving targets in succession. The mass of people among the booths parted into several different directions to see what products they might find to use in hunting seasons only to congregate again to watch outdoor seminars. Friends and family we expected to see joined us to survey the precious items we needed to have or at least hear about, like the new buck attractant aptly named Code Blue (http://www.codebluescents.com/). I say that not only in the recognition of what it is and how well it 'should' work, but also because bottles of it were stacked precariously upon a table that hundreds of fingers touched and handled not to mention the number of children who leaned upon that table during the course of the day. Those anxious faces behind the Code Blue table were just priceless. I can't say I blame their concern over those bottles of blue 'gold'.
I met representatives from Hunters Specialties, the Drury Outdoors team, Chuck Buck and the President and founder of Christian Hunters of America, Scotty Andersen for the first time. This diverse group of industry leaders shares a common theme, professionalism.
When I discovered the Ameristep (http://www.ameristep.com/) booth, I wandered in to ask a question about stacking my new tree stand and was promptly introduced to Wayne Prejean the veteran bow hunter and inventor who designed the Ameristep non-typical tree stand. Within moments I was watching video that showed just how to stack the two separate parts of my climbing stand together. I was impressed and very pleased to see that it was so simple to assemble for storage and backpacking into the woods. The information and instruction I received from Ameristep were exceptional. I can't wait to hunt from my non-typical Ameristep climber.
In no time, I found myself face to face with Brenda Valentine and as I shook the hand of the ‘First Lady of Hunting®’, it became obvious that she was approachable and quite amicable. She took the time to shake my daughter's hand and even asked if she was a future WomenHunter. To my own embarrassment when Brenda asked where I was from, I admit I was so nervous I couldn't remember (at first.) I guess that is what I would call a humbling experience.
A short while later, my memory intact, I found myself in the standing room only crowds watching the RedHead Seminar as it unfolded into the Q&A session. The conversation turned to a discussion and demonstration of Scent Loc Base Slayers and how they work. That is another new product I can't wait to try out this fall. I found my voice and took the opportunity to ask the RedHead Team a question: "What one piece of advice would you share with other hunters?" The simplicity of each of their answers amazed me as I listened.
Jerry Martin said, "Take your shot on the animal as soon as you know you can ethically take it."
Walter Parrott said, "Just get out there and enjoy yourself. Hunting should be enjoyable so don't make it hard work."
Brenda Valentine, "Pursue hunting for the reasons that are right for you not what is right for another hunter or for the reasons your husband expects you to."
I've thought a lot about what it is that drives how I feel in the hunt and whose products and opinions I let influence me. I agree hunting should be enjoyable. Otherwise, I would not spend so much time out there alone in the woods! The waiting to take that shot is just about where it is for me. Maybe in a few more days, I won't have to wait any longer.
The most incredible thing about this event was visiting with the women in the industry. As I met and chatted with one lady after another, I felt a sense of allay and felt a bit of wonder at their sincerity and the professionalism I saw in them. Before I left for the day, some of us gathered for a while at the Women in the Outdoors booth where I was given a back issue of WITO magazine and guess what lady was featured among the pages? Brenda Valentine! What a great day it was and the WITO magazine is just a neat reminder for my daughter and me of the conversation and friendships we made that day.
I came away from the Fall Classic with a desire to be more professional in my approach to hunting and outdoor writing. One does not have to be numbered among the ranks of professionals to desire excellency and professionalism in their personal and public life, that has impressed me about the ladies and gentlemen of our industry.