Did Someone Say Camping?
above: Where would you rather camp out for the night?
Dressing the Part
Since this was my first Sportsman's show, I decided to immerse myself into the goings-on and learn as much as possible. I had carefully planned what to wear: a classic casual winter look from Brooks Brothers seemed just the right approach, I thought. Rich amber-colored corduroy pants, a burgundy plaid shirt and a navy blue cable knit sweater. I completed the look with a new pair of glasses with Brooks Brothers frames. I looked as though I was spending a weekend at Balmoral Castle in Scotland to watch a fox hunt with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip. As I approached the entrance to the show grounds, I immediately realized I had grossly miscalculated the crowd and was a tad bit overdressed. In fact it was a sea of blue jeans, timberland boots, and hunting gear or hats emblazoned with logos. Now don't misunderstand me, I am not insinuating anything about the crowd-I met some nice folks who were very interesting. But let's just say I stuck out like a sore thumb. Luckily, I found a navy blue windbreaker to throw on whcih made me feel more comfortable. Ever the diplomat, I managed to assimilate as much as possible and adopted a folksy manner of speech which deflected unspoken questions about me. At least twice I was asked if I were a Democrat or Republican, which I thought was an interesting opening question from a stranger.
Once inside, I made my way through the expedition hall visiting the booths with every imaginable item you would need to hunt, fish or camp. I’ve never been one for blood sports, but I personally don’t have a problem with hunting as a sport, as long as it is regulated. While at first it was a little unsettling seeing all the animal heads mounted in the taxidermy booths, they really didn’t bother me at all. I am a happy carnivore, but as far as I know, meat comes from those nice little plastic trays in the grocery store. I did see some photos and a video of what hunters do after the hunt is finished. And that was gross. I was strangely fascinated yet repulsed at the same time. I decided to compartmentalize those images neatly in a little box back in my mind and swore never to subject myself to seeing it again.
above: Famous dog trainer Dan Mar conducts a seminar at the Sportsman's show on obedience and hunting dog training. He is the only trainer to ever place three dogs four times at the Vizsla Club of America National Championship (2005). His appearance was sponsored by Natural Balance Pet Foods, one of my vendors. His training philosophy is centered around positive reinforcement and showing love to the dog.