Mark your calendars for Sept. 21-23. That's the date for the Western Regional & State Big Game Trophy Show, sponsored by the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America. The show will take place at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds on Route 11, south of Exit 243 and north of Exit 240 off of I-81.
Through the help of numerous sponsors, this year's show will give away three Youth Turkey Hunts and three Youth Deer Hunts. Also, new for this year, the show will offer Boone & Crockett scores along with Virginia scores for all deer and bear entered in the contest.
Animals are judged in separate categories for number of points and type of weapon used, with categories for bow, muzzleloaders and modern firearms. The regional contest is held first for game bagged in western counties. Then the state finals are held for the biggest deer, turkey and bear bagged across the entire Old Dominion.
As a special treat, the show will display last year's All-Time State Record Bear in a full mount. This impressive animal was bagged by Clealen Dove in Rockingham County. It weighed an impressive 592 pounds and the skull scored 31 9/16 inches.
Originally just a big game contest, this event has evolved into a fully-blown outdoor and hunting show. Lots of booths will be filled with retailers and manufacturers displaying their latest products. Game calls, stands, camouflage clothing, ATVs, optics, guns and bows will be featured. Lots of outfitters will also be on hand with pictures and videos of the hunts they offer.
The National Rifle Association's Great American Whitetail Collection Hunter's Tour will be at the show. It includes a 50-foot area and display of 12 of the top bucks ever harvested in the world.
A Wall of Guns will be another interesting item at the show. Those who enter that drawing will have one in 50 odds of winning either a firearm or $500 in cash.
All entries for the turkey, deer and bear contests must be accompanied by a Game Tag or Telecheck confirmation number. All turkeys must have a weight certification completed. The Western Awards show will be at 3 p.m. Sunday, September 23. The State Awards will come right after that.
Admission to the show is $7, with children under 12 free if accompanied by an adult. Trophy registration is $10, but that covers the admission fee as well.
For more details, check out the website at iwla-rh.org.
The weekend after that features another event, the H.C. Edwards Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society's 23rd Anniversary Banquet. This will be held at the Augusta Expoland, in Suites 277 and 279. This is located off of I-64 at Exit 91 in Fishersville.
Doors open at 6 p.m. with beverages and appetizers served until 7:30. Dinner is at 7:30 with Mrs. Rowe's Catering providing the food. The Write-in Auction starts at 8:30, followed by the Live Auction. After that come the Sportsman, Drummer and Ladies Raffles.
Tickets are $55 for a single, $75 per couple, with Ruffed Grouse Society membership included in the price.
Lots of impressive items will be auctioned off to benefit the conservation efforts of this worthy national conservation group, which I'm proud to be a life member of. Weatherby, Ruger, Caesar Guerini, AYA, Orvis and Browning shotguns will be auctioned, as well as a $1,000 Cabela's Gift Certificate.
Several exciting hunts will also be raffled for a $20 donation. These include a South Dakota pheasant hunt, Kansas quail hunt and Minnesota grouse and woodcock hunt, all guided adventures with lodging and meals included.
For more information or to order tickets, phone (540) 886-3337.
-- Award-winning outdoors writer Gerald Almy is a Maurertown resident.